Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The State of The Bushman

Greetings and salutations. At long last, a quiet moment in which I have no pressing commitments and an urge to write.

Just one year ago, I started blogging; partly at the urging of friends from whom I'd recently been displaced, partly to pass the excruciating hours of seemingly endless unemployment (15 months worth, thank you very much), and partly to write down my stories and ideas to keep my skills sharp. I have been a writer by trade you see - 10 years in the newspaper business, along with a flirtation with freelance environmental and outdoors articles. My first newspaper editor once advised me, "Writers write." It was good advice.

I won't lie to you. As The Bumbling Bushman found its footing in the blogosphere and a semi-regular crowd seemed to like what I was doing, my ambitions and expectations started to rise. Maybe I could turn this thing into something more than an online journal. Maybe I could make money at it.

Ah money. The root of all evil. I started blogging when I should have been job searching. I started telling myself that if I could just raise my profile amid the sea of online outdoors writers, someone would take notice and give me money. Every new "follower" was a victory. Every endorsement from another blogger was cause for celebration. I wasn't exactly sure how that was going to happen, but I knew that it did for some of the talented folks I admire and try to emulate.

The trouble was, the emergency fund Sue and I had dutifully built up during 10 years of marriage was dwindling with every trip to the grocery store and the big Cabelas sponsorship wasn't coming. I didn't have any book agents or publishers knocking on my door either.

And then, serendipity.

There was a job interview, followed by an offer. There were hoops to jump through; background checks, psych tests, a state budget crisis and waiting - lots of waiting. Finally, towards the end of May, they gave me a badge and a uniform and I started my duties as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Lake James State Park. My indoctrination is not over yet, not by a long shot. I still have Basic Law Enforcement training to go through starting in January and all sorts of requirements to fulfill before that. But, I have a job and I love it. I get to share the responsibility of stewardship over 3,600 acres of beautiful North Carolina foothill habitat. I get to teach thousands of visitors about the wildlife and natural history of the area. Eventually, I will be honored to help keep them safe and sound as well.

What does this mean for the blog? Obviously, the frequency of my posts has dropped. When I have time off, I've rarely felt the pull of the computer screen. It would be easy to thank you all for reading, say goodbye and sign off, but I don't think so - not yet anyway.

I'm not ready to give up on The Bumbling Bushman. I've made too many friends here and had too much fun. On the cusp of my fourth decade, I mark my life with the adventures I've had and the anticipation of many more to come. Somebody is going to have to write them down.

To all of you who have visited and commented here, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's an incredible feeling to know people are interested in you and your life's pursuits. You helped me through the most difficult year-and-a-half of my life just by logging on.

I finally know what I want from this blog. It isn't money. It isn't fame. It isn't free stuff. It's companionship and participation in that grand old tradition of storytelling. Henceforth, I will not post for the sake of "fresh content," and increasing readership. I don't need anymore readers than what I have right now (though everyone is always welcome at this camp fire). I'm going back to the beginning - when this blog was about staying connected to friends, no more, no less. When I have something to share, you'll see it here.

Your friend,