Rocky Mountain Pastels: Evidence of an Existence
It’s Wednesday again, and that means it’s Naked Truth time here at Writing in the Buff. I’ve promised you an interview with author Robert Robinson, and here it is! If you visit here on a regular basis, then you’ve likely read some of Rob’s witty comments—his dry humor is always appreciated—or followed a link to his blog and stellar writing at http://www.flyfishingthehighcountry.com. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of this man’s work, and I’m proud to offer this interview and give you a preview of Rocky Mountain Pastels.
Robert’s work has appeared in Fur-Fish-Game, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Fly Rod & Reel, The Flyfish Journal, World Unknown Review, and Antioch University’s literary journal *Lunch Ticket*. Robert fishes and hikes the central mountains of Utah with his dog, Touch.
*2016 Pushcart nominee*
Hi Rob. Thanks for doing the interview. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?
I’d live in Washington state, where there’s plenty of water for the fish and pot’s legal. I’d take selfies while holding my social security check, smoking reefer, and fishing for steelhead trout and send them to people it would piss off.
I’m surprised you don’t already do that. 🙂 Have you had other careers before becoming a writer? What were they?
Yes. I was a sailor for nine years, a lead burner for seven, and a boilermaker for twenty-nine.
Thanks for your military service. It is appreciated. How did you get started writing?
Having been an avid reader all my life, I’d always secretly wanted to be a writer. It seemed like the perfect life to me. But I’d quit high school to go into the service and figured my level of education would make that dream impossible. When I decided to go for it, I embarked on a regimen of studying grammar, usage, punctuation, and writing. I studied two or three hours a day for three years. I started writing essays but waited another year until I retired before going public.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I get ideas from everywhere. Mostly from the inspiration I get from being in the mountains.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I enjoy the rewriting and editing stage. It’s when you take jumbled words and passing thoughts and turn them into something coherent and entertaining.
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
Memoir is the toughest for me to write. I’m too close to the story to do a good job during the editing and rewriting stage.
Was your road to publication difficult or a walk in the park?
I shotgunned essays to several outdoor rags for right at a year before having one accepted. At first it was exciting to think I’d been published, but after dealing with different editors and having to chase my money down, the thrill is gone. I used to send out a piece once a month, but lately I’ve just worked on putting the essays together for the book (Rocky Mountain Pastels) and writing more personal pieces for my own reasons. I’m at a crossroads now. I’ve achieved what I set out to do—becoming a published outdoor writer—so I may set other goals now.
Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?
I write at a desk packed tightly with usage books, a dictionary, and a thesaurus. I have just enough room for my tablet and manuscript. Above the desk hang paintings and other inspirational artwork with notes and reminders stuffed all around.
How far do you plan ahead?
After having a heart attack February, I only plan on the next fishing trip.
I’m glad you’re feeling better. That had to be a rough time. Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors?
Yes. Being a writer isn’t decided by others (the gatekeepers); it’s decided by you. If you write, you’re a writer, even if you are never traditionally published. Most of those reading this have blogs—remember, when you post it, it’s published. So always try to do your best when you write your blog. Always assume that some high-end publisher will stumble on your work and discover you. And be persistent. Don’t let rejections get you down. If you send your work out to ten places, you are automatically going to get nine rejections. Only one of them can publish your work. One more thing: fall in love with rewriting and self-editing. That’s where the real writing is done.
What is your writing routine like?
I free-write on topic until I think I have enough material. Then I let it fester for as long as I can (sometimes six months). Then I put the material into some kind of order and put it on the computer. I print it out and work from hard copies as I go through the editing and rewriting stage. I read the piece backwards in order to isolate each sentence. Then I read it from the top. Then I read it aloud, correcting and printing after each reading. I do that over and over until I’m putting in and taking out the same things. That’s when I know I’ve done all I can do with it and call it finished.
Where can readers find you?
You can see more of my work at (https://flyfishingthehighcountry.com/)
Where can readers find your books? Print/eBook?
My book is available in eBook and print at Amazon: Rocky Mountain Pastels: Evidence of an Existence
Here is an excerpt from Rocky Mountain Pastels:
I stood looking at the snowfields above me with a bad feeling in my gut. Where the swollen creek cut its way through, the snow was four-foot deep; I’d never get through. I’d just get wet if I tried, and staying dry was a priority now. Technically it was spring, but a guy could still get toe tagged winter kill up here. The slope leading up to the snow-banked ridge above me was gushing water from every rat hole. The whole mountain was a sieve. I looked back at the tree line from which I had emerged and started thinking about gathering wood for a fire and spending the night. I could split a power bar with my dog Touch, bank up a fire, and wait until the wee hours when the runoff froze. We could cross the creek then, when it would be at its lowest. But we’d still have a five mile hike to get back to the truck—and we’d be wet . . . I’d screwed up. Ignoring the deep snow I could see on the ridges above me, I’d entered an area bordered by water on all sides during the spring melt.
The thermometer had read twenty-nine degrees that morning as I drove up the canyon. It was the time of the year when one side of the road showed the green-up of spring, while the other side was a scene from a Christmas card, with snow still hanging in the trees and covering the ground. I had stepped across the little creek that morning.
We’d hiked to the back side of the reservoir, me casting to the edge of the ice, Touch swimming out to the splashes of my Wooly Bugger. The day turned gorgeous and warm. I started thinking I’d overdressed.
At noon, I hiked up a slope and found a log in a little meadow where I sat and ate my peanut butter sandwich. I gave Touch a dog biscuit and we stretched out in the sun and took a nap. Long before we got back to the creek we’d crossed that morning, I heard it. The little creek was now the color of latte and raging out of its banks. Where I’d stepped across that morning, it was now twenty-yards wide and chest deep. A rush of adrenaline hit me. And I was ashamed I knew the color of latte.
Big thanks to Robert Robinson for taking the time to do an interview. My copies of Rocky Mountain Pastels have been ordered, one for myself and several others that I’m gifting to friends. Believe me when I say that you don’t have to be a fly fisherman to enjoy this work. Rob’s insights carry weight beyond the vehicle by which he delivers them. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for visiting! Please be sure to comment and say hello to Robert! I’ll be out of town through Sunday, so my communication here may be spotty, but Robert will check back throughout the week to respond to comments and questions.
See you next week –
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