Not. But I just bought and read, cover-to-cover, the BEST. MAGAZINE. EVER. This was Backpacker: The Outdoors at your Doorstep, The Survival Issue (October 2008). It has articles like “7 Simple Rules Every Hiker Must Know”, “Essential Survival Gear” and “The Truth about Bears, Snakes, & What You Should Really Fear”. I know what I should really fear: backpacking.

So why did I read this magazine, and why did I devour it like a monstrous, ravenous puma? Ask a shrink, ’cause I don’t know. I’ve always been fascinated by survival stories. From ROBINSON CRUSOE to HATCHET, I love seeing how people have survived with only their wits and minimal tools. I also love stories about “primitive” societies and pre-historic peoples, for the same reason.

I have a character who has sort of walked through a few of my stories, Cosmo, who actually goes out into the woods with only what he can carry in his pockets, and HE’s the one who wanted this magazine. He wasn’t too impressed, but he enjoyed the read, and feeling superior to people who go out with lots of gear. Of course, he only goes into little baby tame local wooded areas so, between you and me, he’s got no room to feel superior to people who climb Mt. Ranier, but don’t tell him I said so.

I love reading about stuff I don’t do and don’t know anything about. When I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, I always look first for magazines about, oh, horse dressage or bow-hunting or sports or cars. It’s a great way to peek into other worlds, other lives, especially the letters to the editor. There’s more than one way to expand the basis of “write what you know”.

MA

writing exercise: Visiting friends, you go for a walk in the woods and get lost. What do you do? What do you think about? What if you were an out-of-shape, elderly office worker? if you were a 20-something gym-jock? if you were a mother of three small children who are waiting back at the house?

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