The story of my life

By DAN GEDDINGS
Posted 2/10/19

I can remember sitting on the floor in my pajamas, as a youngster, at my father's feet, listening to his tales of hunting and fishing adventures. He and my uncles would sit around the dinner table at night, drinking coffee, and tell each other …

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The story of my life

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I can remember sitting on the floor in my pajamas, as a youngster, at my father's feet, listening to his tales of hunting and fishing adventures. He and my uncles would sit around the dinner table at night, drinking coffee, and tell each other animated stories of their experiences in the outdoors. Sometimes they repeated a story that had been told earlier and changed it up a little, but I was just a child and didn't remind them of the difference.

I grew up reading my Dad's old hunting magazines. Sports Afield magazine opened my world to exciting stories of big game hunting in the West and fishing in great locations all over the world. The covers and many of the stories were illustrated with beautiful paintings by great artists like Lynn Bogue Hunt, N. C. Wyeth and Bob Kuhn.

South Carolina Wildlife magazine came to our door. Its pages highlighted our own state's heritage and natural resources. It has always been richly illustrated with great photography and artwork, and it still comes to my door.

In the school library, I found "The Yearling" by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper and "White Fang" by Jack London. I read "Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane Grey and other westerns by Louis L'Amour. I read the classic stories of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and many others. In high school and college, I read Emerson, Thoreau and Walt Whitman.

Long ago, a relative gave me a copy of "An American Hunter" by Archibald Rutledge. The stories are illustrated with exquisite pen and ink drawings. Over the years, I acquired an extensive collection of his books. In "Home by the River," he gives what I think is one of the greatest tributes to another human being, his childhood companion and friend, Prince Alston.

I have many of the books written by Havilah Badcock. His classic, "My Health is Better in November," is one of my all-time favorites. I use the premise of that story from time to time in my own life.

I have a good collection of Tom Kelly books. His knowledge, wit and sarcasm are quite entertaining. In the "Tenth Legion," he writes about turkey hunting in a general and broad manner, but the real interest is in the people that ebb and flow through his stories, including himself. I think that is what makes his books so popular. People will read about turkey hunting, but what they really like to read about are the people, their personal connections to the outdoors and each other.

By now, you know that I am a reader, and I love a good story. I read anything and everything. My home is filled with books. There are stacks of books on my mantle, bookshelves filled in my home office, hobby room and even the kitchen. There are stacks of books in our den. I like history, nature and non-fiction. I read several newspapers online. I subscribe to outdoor magazines. When I am at the doctor's office, I read the magazines in the waiting room.

Almost by accident, I started writing nearly a decade ago. It just seemed to come to me naturally. I don't write fiction. It just seems ridiculous to make things up when reality is so interesting. I don't try to copy anyone's style. Sometimes I look back and wonder, "did I really write that?" I write about the things that interest me, and I've been lucky to have a platform to present my writing.

The stories are how I think and express myself. It is my language. I've tried to get better as I go along. I have a few books on writing that validate some of my own thoughts on crafting stories. I have "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White. "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser, and my personal favorite, "On Writing" by Stephen King.

My life doesn't revolve around just reading and writing, but it is one of the stories of my life. There are many more.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.