WHAT I SEE IS WHAT YOU GET!
Originally Published the Week of July 11, 2012 in Western Outdoor News
I recently came under some criticism by a reader for what I write in my columns and how I write them. It’s not the first and surely not the last time I got in someone’s crosshairs about it. Oh well.
Fortunately, it’s few and far between. I can’t please everyone and everytime someone jumps on my head it’s far outweighed by so many of you who ride in like the cavalry to offer support. Much appreciated, amigos! It’s gratifying to know so many of you enjoy my columns and have my back!
When I started writing this column for WON (Western Outdoor News) in 2004 on a lark. WON editor, Pat McDonnell asked me to fill in “for a few weeks” until he found someone else to replace me. He knew that I was busy with my own fishing operation down here in La Paz. No brainer.
Pat and WON have been friends and supporters for many years. I was happy and honored to fill in although somewhat awed at filling the sandy sandals of the likes of Gene Kira, Fred Hoctor and Ray Cannon.
But, I figured for a couple of weeks, how much damage could I do? La-la-la-la-la…
Two weeks turned into eight years almost 400 columns. I jokingly tell Pat to let me know when he finds my “replacement.”
Those first two years, I wrote the column every week. That’s 800-1000 words and, as I do now, I write the column about midnight after a full day running our La Paz operations. That’s 52 columns, plus other articles for WON as well as the Baja Beat pages in the former Western Outdoor News Magazine. Those were another 3000 or so words.
Try to come up with something new and fresh every time! Then try writing at midnight after a 20-hour-work-day and knowing that you only have a few hours to get it done with a brain that’s screaming for a pillow and a blanket! Pat and the other great writers at WON have incredibly been doing it for years.
I have a small brain. I have limited time. I gotta get up to put out the boats in 2 hours. I wanna go to bed!
And, as I’m sure all writers do, sometimes deadlines would loom and my brain just wouldn’t work. Credit Pat McDonnel, Rich Holland, and Gene Kira who told me, “Just write what you know.”
I can surely write about dorado and tuna fishing and how to catch marlin. And I do. To a degree.
But, so does everyone else. And they are better fishermen than me and can certainly write about it better than I can. And honestly, how many different ways are there to catch a dorado or a billfish? Open any fishing magazine on the rack and there’s probably half-a-dozen articles about “how-to-catch a….(fill in the blank)”
I know that’s almost heresy to even mention that, but where we are here in La Paz, we take a hook. We put a bait on it. We put the bait in the water. We’re now fishing! It’s hard to fill 52 columns a year with that. I’m just not good enough for that.
And I’m not as good of a reporter as so many other writers either. I don’t travel. I don’t get out and about. Gary Graham does such a great job of it. Me? I’m kinda tied to one spot. We live here in La Paz.
My view of Baja can be pretty myopic. It’s the view through the window of the palapa. It’s the view of walking around in the streets doing what people do here on a day-to-day basis. We shop. We fill gas. It’s life.
It’s the joking at the taco stand. It’s the funny things that happen in the grocery store or the sometimes comical adventures of tourists and amigos. It’s about running a business here in an adopted country.
It’s the interaction with visitors and friends and all of YOU who come to wet a line or put your toes in the sand. It’s what I see on the beach or on the water. I keep a keen ear out for what I hear and what all of you say. I’m simply an observer and your humble conduit of those experiences.
So, ultimately, yes. I write about what I know. And I also write for my own enjoyment. When, I’m writing at midnight and running on fumes, it’s pretty hard to find my writing muse if the subject bores me to death!
So, I write about the whole “Baja experience.” Because to me, a visit here is more than just fishing or diving. That’s merely the vehicle that gets you down here.
Beyond that, it’s the sunrises and the great food. It’s that great beach you found and watching your kids light up seeing the dolphins. It’s the dusty road to the hidden cove. It’s the little hotel you chanced upon or finding that perfect surf break or fishing or diving hole.
It’s the culture and most of all, it’s the people. The little old man who sold you the necklace. The captain who chatted about how much he liked the Yankees. The family who served you at the little beachside palapa and cooked your fresh fish and shared a recipe.
It’s the smiles you bring and the smiles you take home!
That’s my story!
Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004. Along with his wife, Jill, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico www.tailhunter-international.com. They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront. If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the restaurant to say hi!
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