The Signature Closing
“Give the black powder shooting sports a try,”
When I completed the rough draft for “Following the Old Trail” (WNWN, October, 2003), I typed an extra sentence as an afterthought: “Enjoy traditional hunting, be safe, and may God bless you.” At first I was surprised, but the three spontaneous phrases represented a deep, underlying desire to personally connect with each reader.
I avoided the sentence throughout my editing of the piece; instead of sharing my experiences in an essay, I was addressing the reader directly, and I wasn’t sure that was an accepted or professional writing practice. After much thought, I added “your” after “enjoy” and submitted the manuscript, fully expecting the sentence to be edited out, if and when the manuscript was published. But that wasn’t the case. Thank you, Randy and Tom.
From time to time, the first phrase changes form, depending on the subject matter. The foundation of that phrase comes from my dad who always told me, “If a task is worth doing, it is worth doing right.” Therefore, if I feel a subject or topic is worth my time to research and write about, and more importantly, worth the reader’s time, then I believe it deserves my best effort. And if I, or other folks, found benefit in the activity then perhaps I should encourage the reader to enjoy the activity, thinking most readers were already participants.
Comments from readers at my second Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend changed my thinking; I realized the majority of my readers didn’t participate in the black powder shooting sports or traditional black powder hunting. With that in mind, the encouragement became “Give [that activity] a try…”
When I was about 12-years-old, my dad signed me up for “gun safety,” which at that time was run by the local 4-H Chapter. Mr. Kohorst was the instructor, and once a week we lay prone on the rock-hard maple floor in the dimly lit gymnasium of the old Central High School, plinking away into a steel trap. In the 1960s, gun safety wasn’t a requirement to buy a hunting license, but rather, it was a credit to parents who wanted to start a youngster out right with a proper respect for firearms.
Whenever I picked up my Ben Pearson bow or asked permission to take the Remington .22 to the woods, my dad would always say, “Be safe,” as I walked out the backdoor. “Yes” was the expected answer, and those two words shortened an all-encompassing safety lecture that reached far beyond the Ten Commandments of Gun Safety.
As I completed that rough draft, it felt like I was bidding each unknown reader “farewell, until next time.” I started writing to share living history experiences with others, especially the next generation. Back then I often wrote with my daughters or nephew in mind, now it is grandchildren. As a parent, it seemed natural and appropriate to add, “be safe,” but the thought expresses a genuine concern for all readers, regardless of age.
“And may God bless you…”
While embroiled in a series of life-changing family health issues, a friend shared a copy of God Calling, edited by A. J. Russell (Barbour Publishing, Inc., Uhrichsville, OH, 1989: www.barbourbooks.com). The book is a unique daily devotional guide; when Shirley gave it to us she said: “You must read ‘The Two Listeners’ introduction first. It explains the devotional passages.”
Through reading God Calling, I have come to believe that there are no chance meetings in this world. I believe that applies to writers and their readers, as well.
“All your movements, your goings and comings, controlled by Me. Every visit, all blessed by Me. Every walk arranged by Me. A blessing on all you do, on every interview. Every meeting not a chance meeting, but planned by Me. All blessed…” (October 5).
“Say often, “God bless…” of any whom you find in disharmony with you, or whom you desire to help. Say it, willing that showers of Blessings and Joy and Success may fall upon them…” (April 25).
And so, at the end of each meeting with each reader I make a heartfelt request “that showers of Blessings and Joy and Success may fall upon them…”
“Please continue to enjoy your visit, be safe and may God bless you…”
Both quoted passages are “from God Calling, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”