You don’t really care about stories from my last fly fishing trip.
Unless you know me personally, or find my way with the language particularly captivating, my fish stories really don’t have a lot going for them. Even tales of fantastic angling feats are still simply my stories.
I suggest that this theory can be extrapolated out even further. Not to cast aspersions around the world of fly fishing literature or blogging, but I think that same assessment can be made across the board. That is to say, whether it is me, Gierach, or Hemingway, I don’t think you care that much about we have to say about our experiences.*
The commentary might be engrossing and the themes profound, but you aren’t really here to read about me catching trout. You don’t really care about that.
You really care about stories from your last fly fishing trip.
So why are you reading about me and my fly fishing?
Maybe reading about the flies I used, the sights I saw, and the fish I caught means something to you. I think and feel certain things when I see a majestic vista. Contemplating the same image, you could be stirred in a totally other way. Regardless of how eloquently I describe the feeling of cold water pulsing against my waders, the real value of those words is their ability to elicit that same feeling based upon your memories.
My fly rod casts differently than yours. My car smells differently than yours. Chances are, I fish in totally different places than you do. But you have a fly rod that casts, a car that smells, and rivers that you fish. What I write about me has some corresponding value for you.
It could be escapism. Although unlikely, my wild adventures in the White Mountains, on the Massachusetts coast, or around the spring creeks of Pennsylvania might be the stuff of dreams for you. Possible, but unlikely. The better possibility is that there is some kernel of intrigue in an unknown place. Or, it could be that you know these places but want to know how I feel about them. You might just want to ensure I don’t know what I’m doing. Not catching your fish. That’s fair.
What I write could just be one more consumable in your relentless passion to digest anything and everything fly fishing. My stories are one more item on the buffet of angling prose. They serve an important purpose: they are served up. In your cubicle, on your phone while riding the train, or via a tablet while laying in bed, my fly fishing stories are stories about fly fishing. Usually nothing more, generally nothing less.
But my fly fishing stories help you think about your fly fishing stories. Stories you think about often. Stories you’ve forgotten until a phrase or some imagery brings them to the forefront of your mind. Stories that you plan on living, but that are merely fiction at the moment.
If that is what my fly fishing stories accomplish, I’m pretty content. Although I absolutely care about my last fly fishing trip, I also care about the stories we’re all writing. That anthology, the chronicle of our culture, is one that is definitely worth reading.
*This might be the most ridiculous sentence I have ever composed.