Writing, Weaving Words and Cordage

The last few days have been rather busy, and I haven't made much time to write. In fact, I really do not write as much as I would like - I hope to set more time aside to do this. The funny thing about blogs is that they do not support much polishing and cleaning up of writing. There is a 'draft' mode, but I guess I do not really use this much. I wonder what it would be like to be a professional author. Getting paid to write - to clarify and expound upon the thoughts we all have. I work with journalists (quite indirectly) at my work, and they get paid to write, to research, to think and to put forth words. I get paid to write, research, to think and to put forth words too, I guess, but it is of a more business nature that I do this. I also do other things, like set up infrastructure and software and technology solutions to attain business goals. I create charts and graphs and matrices of information for reporting and for organizing teams and to ensure programs are overseen and projects are understood by all and implemented on time, on scope, on budget. I guess the type of writer I would like to be is one who gets to wonder aloud. I read a great book by Bill Bryson called "A Walk in the Woods":
"Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The Appalachian Trail offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes--and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

For a start there's the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz's overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson's acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America's last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods is destined to become a modern classic of travel literature."

The review from The Washingon Post Book World is perfect - they write that the book is "Choke-on-your-coffee funny." I remember reading it out on the balcony last summer, and nearly choking on my orange juice - getting orange juice in your sinuses is most unpleasant and astringent. I would love to write like Bill Bryson. He peppers his books with facts about biology and science, ethnobotany, and fun interesting pieces of history and geography. Now that's good readin'. I recommend this book to anyone who loves hiking and camping and nature and narratives - and a little choking on beverages.

Some time ago I wrote a little bit on a survival show that Discovery Channel hosts called 'Man Versus Wild'. It follows manufactured adventures of an ex-special forces British guy who shows off survival tips in the wild. I found it to be rather sensational and quite unrealistic. It bugged me. And at the same time, I could pretend it was me doing these things - but more carefully and thoughtfully and all the while calmly enjoying the outdoors. A fellow from New Hampshire named Tim who writes a blog called The Moose Dung Gazette got in touch with me the other day. He e-mailed me and said he understood where I was coming from, that he was actually the survival consultant on the show and that he from time to time tried to tell the producers of the show how implausible certain things were - but they said "It's TV" and left it at that. I can understand that, working where I work (at a broadcasting company). As our e-mail conversation went on, it turns out that he actually wrote to Dick Proenneke (I had written how I would love to to live in Alaska, and enjoyed the movie "Alone in the Wilderness"). Dick Proenneke wrote back to him and now Tim uses it as a bookmark in his copy of the book "Alone in the Wilderness". Tim teaches survival courses in New Hampshire, and turns out later this summer Mors Kochanski is coming down there to teach. Kochanski wrote the classic "Bushcraft" which I am presently resting my wrists upon as I type this post, in order to ward off carpal tunnel mayhem. I might decide to go to New Hampshire in the summer and take "An intense, five-day course on living and surviving in summer. Topics of instruction include:

* Dressing for the elements
* Making, using and living with fire, including igniting fire by friction, percussion (flint and steel), refraction, and air compression, wet weather fires and more.
* Shelters applicable and practical with regard to the northwoods in summer
* Crafting useful items such as a packframe, friction fire set, bucksaw frame, quickie longbow, sharpening kit and more.
* Making cordage, making rope with primitive spinners and with a rope machine, essential knots
* Edible, medicinal, and otherwise useful wild plants and making a plant collection.
* Knife, axe and saw safety and efficient use.
* Campfire cooking and baking
* Nets and netmaking
* Tracking and pouring track casts"

That would be amazing. Let's see how the summer goes. I want to take Spring for a summer vacation first though - maybe a beach somewhere. Or maybe Paris.

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