I write the hunting column for our State’s Sunday paper. Not to blow my own horn but I receive a fair number of compliments about that column, more than I get for all the other dozen or so national publications I regularly write for combined. That’s odd, but still pretty cool. However, the really peculiar thing is that most of those compliments come from folks who don’t hunt. What am I to conclude from that?
I should qualify my statement slightly. I do occasionally receive compliments from the editors of outdoor publications I contribute to, most of which are something along the lines of, “Your copy is the cleanest we receive from all our writers.” I suppose I should take comfort in knowing I’m at least meeting that objective, dotting all my Is and crossing all my Ts. It’s not an easy job, editing. I know because I have played the role of editor on numerous occasions, and having to decipher what some consider “writing” can be a daunting task. But it is the job description. Consequently, I have learned (with all due respect) that one of the best ways to the good graces of editor is not making them do their job.
So why all the compliments from non-hunters? Some tell me the subject matter is interesting. That’s certainly appreciated. Still, a subject with which they are not familiar should be of at least some interest to most educated folks. And hunting has to tickle the DNA of any sapient being.
But shouldn’t it then be of even greater interest to folks who are not only familiar with, but are passionate about? Then again, hunters tend to be a reticent and reserved lot, keeping their mouths shut and minding their own matters unless and until someone or some thing pisses them off. Perhaps I should assuming I’m doing a good job as long as they’re not complaining, and keep buying my books and magazines.
Others say they just enjoy reading whatever I write; they like my style. I really appreciate that. Arichibald Rutledge is one of my favorite authors, not because of the subject matter he covers (which happens to include a good deal of hunting stories) but because of the way he writes. He could write the service manual for a lawn tractor and it would be interesting. And I would buy it. While I’m nowhere near his class, it’s nice to know I even have a style, and that people like it.
Maybe I should care more about who is reading my work and less about their opinion of it. If there are that many people willing to make the effort to compliment me there must be many more who, whether they like it or not, read my writing. And if the compliments represent a sample of the larger population, most of those folks don’t hunt. That puts them among the roughly 70 percent of our nationwide population. Those are the folks, more than our preferred audience of avid outdoorsmen, that we really need to reach, and to convey a positive image of hunting. At least, that’s my conclusion.