In the mid-1990s I picked up a freebie publication for backcountry skiers from a rack at the Seattle REI store. I tracked down the editor. Sure, he said, they could always use volunteer writers. The rewards were occasional pizza and beer, and seeing my name in print for the first time since I was 8 years old (when Jack and Jill published a one-paragraph letter I wrote about lighting Hanukkah candles).
Gradually, I began to balance my day job as a geologist at engineering firms with more writing. At first, most of my writing was geared towards outdoor recreation. Then, heeding the mantra “write what you know,” I eventually convinced Earth magazine to give me a try with a piece about the quirky mystery of the Mima Mounds, a strange landscape south of Olympia, Washington. My career as a science writer was off.
Years later I still can’t say what formed the Mima Mounds. But I do know that I love the immersion writing gives me into so many corners of the world. I don’t think I will ever get bored with it.