Thursday, July 28, 2011

Writing for Hunters – The Lighter Side

(Originally published in the Merritt News – Othmar Vohringer The Outdoorsman)

© By Othmar Vohringer

Back in March of this year I had reason to really think about hunting stories as told with humour and laughter. I was at the BC Boat & Sportsmen Show giving hunting seminars and Mike Mitchell, Chief Editor of the BC Outdoors magazine, was there to promote the magazine.

Mike and I spent an enjoyable time chatting and getting personally acquainted with each other. He was a bit surprised to hear me talk with a German accent. I was secretly pleased that my ‘im-grunt’ (as certain people like to say) origins were not coming through in my writings. I had been worried for nothing that my written words had somehow carried over a German accent! But then Mike surprised me by asking out of the blue if I would like to write “The Last Light” column for the magazine’s hunting and shooting editions which had recently opened up due to the previous writer moving on. Without thinking I said; “Sure, it would be an honour for me.”

Walking back to the seminar stage it hit me like a ton of bricks: I had just agreed to write a humour column! I had never done this before despite having written over two thousand articles and columns. It’s not that I am lacking in the humour department but having a good laugh over a funny story and writing about it with humour are two completely different pairs of shoes, as any writer will tell you. Realizing all this I started to fret how I would accomplish writing such a column- not to mention on a regular basis. Good grief. I started to sweat and fret, and by the time we got back home to Merritt I was a sweaty nervous wreck and drove my wife just about nuts with my self-doubt. What had I let myself into?

“Just sit down and start to write and see what comes out,” Heidi said. And so, I tried. I sat at my computer and stared at the blank screen of the monitor experiencing writer’s block; where the story is in my head but was refusing to be expressed. After several attempts that resulted in less than humorous writing (no doubt helped along by more thoughts of “I can’t do this” using language that will never see print) I finally got the first column written and sent off to the editor. After days of anxious waiting the editor’s reply came: “Great column Othmar, absolutely fantastic. Exactly what I’ve been looking for.” Phew, what a relief; he liked the column. After the magazine hit the newsstand I received emails from readers voicing their approval of my column.

This feedback gave me a big confidence boost and now I actually enjoy the process of writing in that style. I feel there is a lesson in this somewhere. Take the opportunity when it presents itself and never say, “I can’t do it” before you even try. If it’s good you will hear about it and if it isn’t…well, you can always do better!

You can read the “Last Light” columns here.


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