Each Word Has a Mission

During my first career in the building materials industry, my work responsibilities included company correspondence, advertising copy, promotional brochures, instruction sheets and employee manuals. Long hours left no time for personal writing. When I decided to change careers, I dabbled with writing for my own enjoyment, squeezed in between composing resumes and searching job postings. It was not my intent to become a professional freelance writer.

Thanks to a newspaper article in the Jackson Citizen Patriot, I reconnected with a high school classmate, Bill Baetz, who was a successful author and ran an informal mentoring program for writers. Bill taught me that the cardinal rule for new writers is to ‘write about what you know.’ I started writing essays about my lifelong passion, traditional black powder hunting. With Bill’s constant encouragement and mentoring, the first essay, “Memories of the Island Buck,” sold in 2001. Bill passed away in 2005, but not before leaving a lasting legacy of writing inspiration.

Sitting beside a large red oak treeIn October 2003, “Following the Old Trail” appeared in Woods-N-Water News: Michigan’s Premier Outdoor Publication. I submitted another essay, “What is Black Powder Hunting All About?” and the feature series was born, even though the magazine’s production manager dropped “traditional” from the title.  The first “Black Powder Shooting Sports” article was printed in December of 2003, entitled “Clean Your Muzzleloader—NOW!”; monthly publication began with “The Gunmaker’s Shooting Festival” in the September 2005 issue.

The traditional hunting essays spoke of places called “the big woods,” “the nasty thicket,” or “the old duck camp.” These locations, all within the boundaries of a single plot of ground called “the North-Forty,” held meaning for me, but I understood that to a reader, the words probably held little significance. Only through my choice of words, and the sentences they created, could I hope to foster a connection between the reader and those places.

Thus, the mission of each word, phrase and sentence is to grab a casual onlooker by the shirtsleeve or collar and plop that reader square in the midst of the action, experiencing with me the rippling tingle that races up and down one’s spine when a strutting wild turkey chain-gobbles, or the pulsing, artery-popping throb felt when a whitetail buck veers left, picking your trail.

Please continue to enjoy your visit, be safe, and may God bless you.

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