The author grew up near this mountain, but never hiked it until he moved home in 2013 and started hunting. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

The author grew up near this mountain, but never hiked it until he moved home in 2013 and started hunting. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: A look in the archives

Reading old writing is an experience.

Reading old writing is an experience. It can remind you of how far you’ve come, but is most commonly a reminder of where you were.

I’m compiling some old work along with writing a bunch of new stuff I hope will congeal into a book about my first ten seasons as a hunter.

Change often comes slow, in writing and hunting, so it can be hard to see just how much improvement or growth has happened until you look back. When it comes to hunting, my ten-year career seems to be an anthology of failure mixed with occasional success as though finding the silver-lining was the main goal. I suppose that might make for better copy than had I always been successful because who wants to read someone who never fails? Conflict drives plot and reveals character. Plus, no trust should be given to people who never admit wrongdoing or failure. (Insert political commentary tangent here)

I came upon a few things I wrote that seem like they were from the future, or at least foreshadowed the better writer I would become. Not that I am exceedingly confident in my ability with words. If anything, my self-deprecating humor or angles for hunting more closely mirror feelings of inadequacy or insecurities as a writer. But that doesn’t stop me from doing either.

When you write about your life, if someone finds it boring or uninteresting, that can feel like an indictment of your life. It shouldn’t. That is more accurately a failure to articulate something in a way that appeals to a reader. That shouldn’t necessarily be a problem either because you can’t write for everyone. The audience can be anyone, but the more specific an audience you have in mind, the more it will resonate. It’s an aim small, miss small principle.

The point of writing, however, isn’t to attempt to be a legend, it’s just to tell your story and see what happens. But audience and purpose have to be clear. Write for yourself, but to other people. Stories about how great you are or You had to be there stories don’t land.

Some of my favorite pieces ever were written by Russell Chatham. He lived in a bygone era in which fly fishing for king salmon in California yielded dozen-fish days, if not more. That is unthinkable now. He wrote what he knew and was specific. Those specifics ended up being timeless and universal though the fish population collapse. It doesn’t matter if people who fly fish don’t get it, nothing is for everyone and by aiming for a specific audience, he nailed it in a way that made him a writing legend.

If I want to write about a hunt so I can read about it later, that’s fine. If I want someone to look forward to what I have written, then it has to resonate. I have to be writing to an audience about something that means something to them, not writing to me about things that inflate my ego.

In addition to battling imposter syndrome to become a better writer and hunter and analyzing my effort, I also thought back to how many creative people I have met since I started writing a newspaper column for a California newspaper in 2008 then in Alaska when I moved home in 2013.

Whether it’s a writer, photographer, artist, podcaster or entrepreneur, you’re never hopelessly adrift in the creative world. Understanding this can sometimes be the difference between taking a break that becomes longer than you intended, or pushing through toward something that will make you look back and smile.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available in local bookstores and at “I Went to the Woods” appears twice per month in the Sports & Outdoors section of the Juneau Empire.

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for t​​he Week of Sept. 17

Here’s what to expect this week.

Jordan Creek flows over a portion of a footbridge behind a shopping center Thursday evening. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Jordan Creek, Montana Creek and Auke Lake until 10 a.m. Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Flood warning for Jordan Creek, Montana Creek and Auke Lake issued until 10 a.m. Friday

Glacier Highway, structures near Jordan Creek may inundated, according to National Weather Service.

Soon-departing Assembly member and Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski smiles for a photo at her seat in the Assembly chambers Thursday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Q&A: Deputy Mayor Gladziszewski prepares for departure, shares advice to candidates

The long-serving Juneau Assembly member nears the end of her final term.

Participants in the 38th Annual International Coastal Cleanup carry a fishnet to a boat on a coast near Sitka in August. (Ryan Morse / Sitka Conservation Society)
Resilient Peoples and Place: Coastal cleanup removes 1,400 lbs. of trash from Sitka’s beaches

Effort by wide range of groups part of global project that has collected 350 million lbs. of waste.

Cars drive past the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation building in Juneau on Thursday. This year’s Permanent Fund dividend will be $1,312, the state Department of Revenue announced. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
This year’s official Permanent Fund dividend: $1,312

Distribution of payments will begin Oct. 5.

Albino Mbie, a Mozambique-born musician whose band is now based in Boston, performs during a youth jam at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Wednesday night as a prelude to the Áak’w Rock Indigenous music festival that starts Thursday. His band is scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Áakʼw Rock ready for full-fledged opening as ‘monumental, historic event’

Youth jam Wednesday offers preview as only Indigenous music festival in U.S. makes in-person debut.

This is a photo of the front page of the Juneau Empire on Sept. 21, 2005. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Sept. 24

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Photo of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Jarvis, date unknown. (Courtesy of Jack Hunter/ All Present and Accounted For)
Of things Jarvis, heroic men and reindeer

Author Steven Craig giving a talk on David Jarvis and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Jarvis

Eleven of the 14 candidates seeking four seats on the Juneau Assembly in the Oct. 3 municipal election answer questions during a forum Friday night at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly candidates challenged to offer plan of action, not just talk, at Tlingit and Haida forum

11 of 14 contenders for four seats get extra time to respond to some tough questioning.

Most Read