Hey there! It’s me. I’m back.
I’ve been away on a year-long sabbatical. I wish I could tell you I climbed mountain peaks and ran marathons, wrote poetry and split logs, sat in sweat lodges with shamans and rediscovered the Real Me. Mostly, though, I just hung out. Did some yoga. Read a lot of books. It was delightful.
As fate would have it, I wrote a piece about my year away for Outside magazine. It was published online today; I think it will be on newsstands (they still have those, right?) on Sept. 9. Here’s how it begins:
One night, late in the summer of 2012, discussion at my dinner table turned to the venerable topic of What to Be When You Grow Up. My older son, Griffin, then nine years old, wanted to be an “underwater paleontologist.” His little brother, Huck, then seven, wanted to be a monkey.
“Do you know what I do for a living?” I asked Huck.
His eyes grew wide. “All you do is sit on your computer and say, ‘Blah blah blah Congress, blah blah blah Mitt Romney’!”
We all—OK, mostly my wife—got a big laugh out of that. For my birthday that year, she and the boys gave me a print emblazoned with BLAH BLAH BLAH. It’s hanging in my office.
Huck was not wrong.
You can read the rest here.
I’d love to discuss the piece with y’all. Send me comments, questions, or brickbats by whatever medium you prefer. (These days, I mostly Yo.) I’ll be revisiting some of the issues it raises, and some stuff that got cut for space, in subsequent posts.
For now I’ll just remark on what is probably obvious to lots of other writers: how different the magazine writing process is from blog writing. On the blog, I can ramble on and on over as many posts as I want (no, really, it’s true!) and link to anything that needs further explanation. A magazine piece is a self-contained whole, pitched to a broad audience that might be reading on paper and unable to click on links. Hard to believe, but there are hundreds of thousands of such readers, just pressing on words with their fingers, staring forlornly as nothing happens.
Given the scopious range of possible subjects involved in this story — digital overload, lifehacking, work-life balance, overwork, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and blah blah blah — and the tens of thousands of words worth of drafts I wrote, it’s a miracle that the result is a tidy and reasonably coherent 4,500 words. All credit on that score goes to Outside’s excellent editors, let us praise them in song and verse.
Nonetheless, lots of topics got compressed or passed over. Now that I’m back blogging, I’m going to pluck a few of them out and unpack them a little. Oh my goodness I’ll go on and on. It’ll be great.
(I’ll probably also have some stuff to say about, y’know, climate change and whatnot, but more on that later.)