I spent a great many hours sitting off to the side of discussions entered into by the grownups as I called them at the time. These discussions were primarily stories—most true, but some probably not. I first started this fascination with what they had to say the very first time I went along with Dutch to run jugs one day when I was most likely 5 years old—Colorado, Montana or North Dakota. I really don’t remember the local; there were so many in my youth. My fascination continued through my adolescent years; in high school, on to college, then anytime the grownups were gathered.

Later in life, I had my own stories to tell although I still enjoyed listening to the grownups tell theirs—some of which I had heard oh so many times. The stories these guys told wee always more dangerous, more risky, more funny and more interesting than any I had heard at the time or since in most cases. The attraction to their stories was more the people, the times and the locals involved than the stories themselves—although the stories were good. After all, these were men from the greatest generation; those that survived the depression and a World War.

There’s just nothing like a storyteller—most need no formal training; just a good tale or the start of a good tale. Story Tellers have a way of capturing your imagination. You hang on every word and want to believe every word that comes from their mouth. Fascinating, I tell you!

One of my greatest thrills in life is to tell stories that others wanta hear and then repeat to others—a tradition that predates the written word. I hope you enjoy what I have to tell you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crawler Escapades

At last month’s meeting of my non-fiction writer’s group, I presented a 3 page extract from my Roomin’ With Dutch manuscript titled Crawler Escapades. The project details the several summers I spent roughnecking on a shot hole rig doing primarily core drilling to provide soil samples for various projects over multiple locations in Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming.

Both summers I roomed with Dutch, the prime contractor and owner//operator of the drilling business that I worked for. I felt very privileged to have been selected for the position I had on the crew and the opportunity to get indoctrinated into the adult work force even though I was still a long way from becoming an adult.

The feedback I gathered from my co-members was very positive with the one exception of terminology used in the piece. I explained that this was not so much a problem as the piece presented was an excerpt taken from about a third of the way into the manuscript and most of the terminology had been explained in the proceeding text—at least I hopped so—hard to tell from an excerpt.

One of my measures for quality, especially in my light hearted stories or humorous stories is to garner at least seven to ten laughs or giggles per 12 font single-spaced page—this number being a purely arbitrary quantity that I have observed over the last several years of doing this work.

The little less than three pages of Crawler Escapades achieved twenty laughs—right on target for what I seek. I was pleased with the outcome.

For those that are Crawler challenged out there; the crawler in question was a small John Deere dozer that the crew used for site preparation and additional towing capacity where called for.

This pix will give you some perspective on the size of the crawler. That’s Dutch on the left and Don Kopecsky, our engineer on the right.

It had become my task to drive the crawler as I was the lone crew-member without a driver’s license or an assigned vehicle.

I did determine several places where the reader had trouble with the prose and stumbled over several other grammatical problems that I hadn’t picked up during my self-edit.