Monday, October 14, 2019

14 reasons (minus 12) I write about the West.


1. It is my homeland. I was born and raised in the West. After leaving my small Western hometown for good after graduating from college, I have lived in half a dozen or so other places. But all of them are Western places, either on one edge or the other of the Great Basin, or on the Snake River Plain. Raised among sagebrush and cedar trees (western juniper, if you’re a botanist), my eyes are accustomed to far horizons and wide skies. And while I enjoy visiting forested places and the confinement of wall-to-wall green-tinted shade, it is direct sunlight and hard-edged shadows that tell me I am at home.

2. The story of the West is the story of America and the American people. For centuries, the stories of the West were told by the many tribes and bands of Indians who were, and are, here. Later, the story took on a Spanish accent with the arrival of Spanish and Mexican colonizers. French inflections arrived with the trappers. And, since Europeans arrived on the east coast of the continent, there has been a yearning to go west, and west they came. The resulting clashes and collaborations that continue yet today created a place unlike any other on earth.

Whether it is writing history, fiction, poetry, or reporting the stories and lives of modern-day Westerners, there are stories to be told about the American West—and those stories will never run out. And, I believe, those stories can and will say more about the world than any other stories can tell.



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Remembering.


No one becomes a writer alone. Although it is a solitary pursuit, the pursuit of writing requires saddle pals to blaze the trail, to lead the way, to lend a hand.
There have been many writers I consider saddle pals who have ridden off into that sunset of the great beyond. In one way or another, in ways large and small, they have helped me in my attempts to be a writer. And I will never forget that. Or them.
Here are the names of some of those saddle pals. Some you may recognize, some not. But all are heroes in their own way—at least to me, and, I suspect, many others.
·         Dale Walker—historian, writer, and editor extraordinaire
·         Elmer Kelton—gentleman and all-time great Western writer
·         Dusty Richards—made a career of helping other writers find a career  
·         Frank Roderus—ever encouraging, ever helpful, ever informative
·         Don Kennington—kind and considerate, talented beyond measure
·         Pat Richardson—rollicking rhymester steeped in wry humor
Even though they are gone, for me they will never go away.