I think I first noticed something was up in the first week of May when Quill Gordon ended a post without placing a fly on the water.
It took a little while, but slowly things began to build. I have no doubt there are others that have been writing about this, but the first week of June, Mike had Writer’s Block.
It was nice to see recently that he wasn’t letting the Dog Days of Summer get to him too much and he still found the energy to wander off and fish. I would be hard pressed to call the paragraphs he wrote about it writer’s block. Maybe he was referring to quantity rather than quality.
One of these days I’ll learn how to write like that.
Then Ed from The Four Season Angler kept getting out fishing, but his constant whining about being busy, lazy and uninspired was starting to get to me, so I convinced him he owed an explanation to his millions of readers as to why there was a lack of posts. He finally sat down and wrote something after sitting around listening to The Sound of Crickets.
It didn’t stop the whining though.
Next, in a phone conversation, Dale Bowman of the Sun TImes tells me how busy he is. An hour later I go to his Sun Times Blog only to find that he’s Gone Fishin': Sorta.
I know the project he’s trying to finish, it will be worth the wait till he gets back.
Then, the other Mike went out fishing and Just Wasn’t Feelin’ It.
What’s up with all of this?
I know sitting on my own desktop are a good half dozen half finished stories that I keep meaning to get to finishing. My wife keeps reminding me that if I don’t sit down and hack them out that day, I never go back. So I say hmmmmm, get a beer from the fridge and grab a cheap cigar. Then we go sit out in the yard for a couple of hours. Or we go for a walk, where we take a bunch of pictures, I formulate another story in my head and I never sit down and do anything with the pictures or the story.
(Here’s a brief synopsis, it’s grasshopper time).
Around 10 years ago I heard that we, as humans, have hit our information saturation point. We can simply no longer take in and process all that is coming into our heads. Our brain cells start randomly dumping the excess information. This info overload was determined before things like facebook, twitter, blogs and the wide variety of instant access capabilities that we have now even existed.
I have no interest in going on and on with examples, you won’t read them anyway. But think about how you’ve come to deal with all this information? How many friends have you hid on Facebook? What do you completely ignore? How many things do you get that request a response and you never bother responding? How much do you guilt trip over this?
15 years ago I started going out fishing, coming back and leaving posts about my adventures on fishing forums. In the past 15 years I estimate that between the original post, the comments to the post and general posts on fishing that had nothing to do with actually being out fishing, I’ve left at least 6,000 things out there floating around on the internet.
Give or take a few.
I never thought of myself as a writer. I’ve never taken a writing class. I used to paint and before I stopped I was writing short paragraphs on top of my paintings. I must be compelled to write things down for some reason whether I know what I’m doing or not.
This starts to touch upon the problem. I go out fishing, I come back and I feel compelled to write something down about it. The brain is just a muscle and that process has become part of my muscle memory. With blogs this problem becomes compounded. I have to put something up there after every fishing trip or my page hits will go down. Nobody will come visit my blog. I’ll become a fishing non-entity.
I’m beginning to envy people that just go out fishing, have a nice day of it, or not, come home and go to sleep.
Instead, while I’m out on the water, I’m composing stories in my head. I’m taking pictures and thinking about what I’m going to say about them. The whole day is coming together in my head with words and images, I just have to put them down when I get home.
And that’s the part I would like to have the ability to shut off now and then. Not every outing is all that important. Not every outing has some meaning to it other than I went out fishing. Maybe I caught a fish. I went home and had a beer.
That’s it, ’nuff said.
I know at times I have those moments like Mike and I Just Wasn’t Feelin’ It.
It had nothing to do with not wanting to be out fishing. It had everything to do with not wanting to think about being out fishing and feeling like I had to go home and write about the experience when I was done. Kills the enthusiasm. Kind of like talking about sex before actually having it. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re into.
I also envy those that wrote about the outdoors in pre-computer days. They went about fishing and hunting and wandering around, then on a day shitty enough to keep them inside, they sat down, gathered their thoughts and wrote things down. Eventually, if they were lucky, what they wrote would get published in something.
There once was a lawyer, apparently a very good lawyer, named John Voelker that made his home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He liked three things, the ruffed grouse, the white-tailed deer and the brook trout. During the long UP winters he would sit and write, there wasn’t much else to do, under the pen name Robert Traver.
Eventually he wrote a little book called Anatomy of a Murder that gained him some attention. He also wrote a couple of books that I’ve been told were possibly the best fishing books ever written, Trout Madness and Trout Magic. I don’t have those in my collection, but I will be fixing that issue soon.
I’m sure these little details about Voelker are old news to most, but the point here is that he apparently once said that if it weren’t for the long brutal UP winters and if he could have fished all year round, he might never have written a line.
Part of me longs to have that kind of attitude. Go live your life, go have a life and when you have nothing better to do, give it some thought and jot it down.
Because of the muscle memory of our brains, my brain, I’m not sure that’s a possibility. I’m sitting here looking at the half dozen folders of half started stories and wondering if anyone really would care anymore about my trip to the Apple River the first week of June. Would it have any real interest to anyone RIGHT NOW.
That trip was so yesterday.
Instead, I’m sitting here thinking about doing a sunset fish. Checking the USGS river gauges every couple of hours. Checking the radar every couple of hours since they are calling for severe thunder storms. First thing this morning I had already put something up on Facebook regarding my mental gymnastics on the possibility of going fishing:
Wife wakes up and says, looks like it didn’t rain. No, it did, but the big one is moving south. Unless I go fishing. Then it will come this way and try to kill me again. I should test that theory later.
There’s a good chance if I go I’ll leave something on Facebook that I think is witty about how if you don’t hear from me, look for a lightning fried body floating down the Fox River.
Within the next 24 hours if I don’t write something down about the experience and put it up on my blog, does it make any sense to even bother at that point? Two months from now if I get around to writing something down, will what I experienced matter?
I wonder if this sense of responsibility to our followers, our subscribers, to keeping our unique IP count from plummeting is what keeps us, or me, from going out at all. Gives us, or me, the doldrums about fishing in general. It becomes an overwhelming responsibility rather than simply doing something we enjoy. In order to stop the brain muscle memories, we in turn do nothing.
Kind of sad, really.
Well, grin and bear it. It is what it is. Either go along or move along. Can’t have your cake and eat it too. Shit or get off the pot.
In the mean time, while out for a walk with the wife the other day, I never noticed before that milkweed flowers smell a lot like lilacs. Never knew that you could actually eat the things. Learned that when I got home and Googled “is milkweed edible.”
Starting to look like I’ll be heading out fishing later. The river level isn’t bad and the radar shows that the storms are either tracking to the south or are nonexistent.
If you don’t hear from me. . .