I don’t just interview anyone. I carefully select the interviews for Dock Talk 365 by researching (some may call it creeping, but I call it researching) everything I can find about the person before requesting the interview. I want the interviews on here to be interesting and engaging. When I was looking into author, Andy Whitcomb, I found a quote by one of my favorite outdoor writers of all time, Patrick McManus about Andy and his writing. I knew from that quote, I needed to interview Andy. I am delighted he agreed. You can can see what McManus had to say about Andy below as well as learn a lot more about this accomplished Outdoor writer in this interview.
What got you started in Outdoor writing and specifically humor writing?
I’ve always been fascinated by nature… and a scribbler of ideas, quotes, thoughts on whatever paper or napkins I had at hand. I wanted to do something in the field of fisheries, however when my career path, such as it was, began to veer away, I found that writing about the outdoors, mostly fishing… helped. And I appreciate humor. Humor is hard. One of my early writing goals was to try to get someone to blow their drink out their nose when reading my work.
You have been very successful being published in numerous magazines and writing for TakeMeFishing.org. What have been your keys to success in getting published?
I could say “persistence” and “hard work”… but many writers are those things too. I may have been lucky too. I was able to reach the right editor at the right time. A couple of editors for the now closed www.espnoutdoors.com liked what I submitted even though it didn’t “fit” their site. They were able to help me shape my content for their audience. The momentum from those columns led to several other big writing opportunities.
I am constantly referring to the youth movement of fishing. These young men and women have fully embraced the world of social media and have been able to promote their fishing ambitions in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I was their age. What advice do you have for them when it comes to building their writing skills as part of their social media and outdoor résumé?
The power of social media is mind boggling. And if I may quote from the movie Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” This ability to publish, without going through an editor, or any filter of any kind is… dangerous. At least writing-career-wise. Try to find a patient editor. This is the best way to hone your writing skills. If you can’t find an editor, rewrite it, then rewrite it again. Let it age. Then try to mark it up like a maniacal editor who has never seen it. And rewrite it again.
As far as building an outdoor résumé, I recommend joining the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America. Or something similar. Not only does this “look good” on a résumé but writer’s associations are great places to learn from others in the same boat. Literally. There may be contests which allow you to put your work up against others. And this is a great opportunity for networking.
I read a recent article that said almost all social media will be video within 5 years. Where do you see the place and importance of the written story as part of outdoor media over the next 5 to 10 years?
I believe there will be a glut of video content, if there isn’t already. What print magazines manage to survive this digital age will be extremely strong. Even though there is now even a push for me to create video content for www.takemefishing.org too, the goal of the outdoor writer should continue to be print. The printed words will remain unmatched in credibility, staying power, respect, and prestige.
One of my favorite Outdoor writers, Patrick McManus wrote about you, “I’m going to leave the field of outdoor humor writing to you. I’m sure it will be in good hands.” How did you feel when hearing for the first time such high praise from arguably the best outdoor humorist in the business?
I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t. I’m thinking he may have been working in a poorly ventilated area at the time.
Besides McManus, I a big fan of P.J. O’Rourke, Bill Bryson, and Tim Cahill.
Your book is titled Just Keep Reeling. Reviews of the book talk about how entertaining and enjoyable of read it is. What is covered in the book?
I assembled my columns, articles, and such from the first few years of writing. Variety of topics but primarily fishing related. Because it is currently just an ebook, anyone can read the first few chapters on Amazon.com’s “look inside” feature.
You moved from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania. When did you make the move? What are some of your favorite waters to fish in both States?
Let’s see, we moved about 3 years ago. We were spoiled somewhat in Oklahoma with a beloved backyard pond which we visited every day. However, we were mostly limited to its largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. In Pennsylvania, we have to travel and work harder to find fish. I have a list of places to fish the length of my arm. It is a bit tricky to pick the right place at the right time but the trout, smallmouth bass, pike, muskie, and steelhead adventures can be worth it.
As a father of 4, I love your bio description of “Outdoor Writer, Avid Angler and Stressed Out Dad”. I can relate to the last two. You have involved your children in your work and fishing and have written about tips for taking kids fishing. Can you tell us about a fishing trip with one of your children that stands out and reminds you of the importance of keeping them involved in the things you do?
They don’t necessarily need to be involved with the things I do. I’m just trying to be a good parent. I’ve been able to utilize fishing as a teaching tool about the underwater world, biology, ecology, and life in general. I see fishing as empowering and full of hope. Whether they are seeking a thrill or escaping anxiety, fishing is now there for them, if they want it.
Yesterday, fishing with my son, I watched as he chose a lure, tied it on, made determined casts under tricky conditions and hooked his biggest bass of the year. By anyone’s standards, it was massive. He landed it himself, unhooked the fish, snapped a few photos, carefully released it… and I’m sure he was thinking, if he didn’t actually say it, as I’ve heard before, “Thank you, fish.”
That appreciation… is one of those things that helps me think maybe, just maybe I’ve done a good job.