I was a sophomore in college when one of my buddies handed me a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams Stories and told me to read “Big Two-Hearted River.” Nothing much happens in the story, which is about a young World War I veteran who returns to Michigan eager to hike into the wilderness to camp and fish. But as an avid fly fisherman, and someone who understood the soothing, regenerative power of nature, I was hooked. I wanted to connect with people the way Hemingway had connected with me, like he was sitting across a campfire, drinking whiskey and telling glorious lies. I changed my major to English Literature and decided I was going to be a writer.
After graduation, I was plugging along, still trying to be a writer while working the night shift at a newspaper in Maine, reporting on fires and town meetings. I’d finish work around 1 a.m., then go home and write until the sun came up. My work improved; I even published a couple of short stories. Thing is, I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Just thinking about it felt like a struggle. I needed a break, but I still wanted to be creative. Continue reading