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A history of a reader and wanna be writer.

As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. When I was young, I read books voraciously. I would become interested in an author and read everything they had as fast as possible. But, of course, being young helped; I had zero responsibility and all the time in the world, it seemed.

I’m trying to recall the first author or series that really got me. In the early years of high school, it was Tolkien, Terry Brooks, the various Conan novels were always fun, and the “Heroes in Hell” series of books. I enjoyed fantasy, being an avid Dungeons and Dragons player from fourth grade to sophomore year.

Then I slowly crept into my tree-hugging hippie days, where I discovered Edward Abbey, who, to this day, is still one of my greatest heroes. He also made me fall in love with the American Southwest before I had ever laid eyes upon it. I keep a copy of “Desert Solitaire” on my desk at all times.

After I read through all of Ed’s books, I discovered Tom Brown Jr., a survivalist that wrote some books recalling his history in the Jersey pine barrens in the company of his native American friend and his friend’s grandfather. This was the first time I really delved into writing that involved spirituality. I read all of Tom’s books, including his survival manuals. I haven’t revisited any of it in about thirty years; I may have to soon.

Following that period, things changed a lot. Life got busy; I traveled a lot for the Army and, in general, didn’t read too much until I was a Bradly Fighting Vehicle driver; when not driving, I was in the hatch, just waiting for hours on end. This was my Anne Rice and Tom Clancy period.

After my first stint in the Army came my outdoor writer stage, especially fishing. In this time period, John Gierach becomes my hero. Like good ole' Ed in the early days, John’s writing was almost all essays or short stories. I’ve learned that these types of books are my proverbial jam. Other fishing writers I really loved were Nick Lyons, Norman Maclean, and Thomas McGuane.

In my late thirties, I hit my self-help phase, reading all kinds of books on personality, leadership, salesmanship, and so on. The main book from the many I read in the category that stuck is “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. It was more life lessons than anything about sales.

Next was spirituality and holy writings; though dry at times, very inspiring stories are held within. It also allowed me to wipe away some common ignorance and prejudice about various faiths.

At this point in my life, I fall back on Ed and various outdoors writers. I find that non-fiction, including essays and tall tales at times, is my niche. These are the books I tend to love the most, and they sit in my memory banks the longest. I do, at times, pick up a novel, but rarely.

After all this blabber, I have talked little about writing itself. I guess mainly because one has to understand what they enjoy reading to maybe have a clue what they would enjoy writing.

To this day, I have written very little beyond blog posts and a couple essays. Though I am getting pretty disciplined at writing in my journal daily or maybe every other day. It helps, nonetheless. But I am getting older, and as I see my dream, which I honestly never put much effort in, slip away, I would like to give it a go again. I may not be a Cactus Ed, but maybe I can share my truths and make a person smile occasionally. So we will see what comes of it.

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