Only in Words

It’s funny, I wrote yesterday’s reasons post as an afterthought, a followup after reading Michael’s blog and noticing how much of his writing centered around his emotions and his partnerships. I have never been someone who writes about myself. In my job as a newspaper reporter and editor I write hundreds of stories a year, but I have never considered myself a writer. People call me one and I respond, “I’m a reporter, not a writer. Writers include themselves in their stories. I report and do my best to stay out of it.”

But not last night. After reading a couple of Michael’s posts I wanted to celebrate that which makes climbing special — the people. I was doing it for myself, but when I finished I wanted to make sure those people — my reasons, my astronauts — knew what they do for me. So I posted it to Facebook and tagged each of them.
And over the next 24 hours this blog (which I started yesterday after discovering my previous outdoor blog was blocked) reached 1,700 pageviews. I don’t think I’ve written anything in five years of reporting that has generated that much attention.
And in addition to the traffic there have been the individual responses. I’ve had climbing partners call to tell me the piece spoke to them, others write to say they understand, and some text to say thank you. One friend whose wife died of cancer on Friday said I’d captured his life and emotions beautifully, probably the most humbling compliment I’ve ever received. I didn’t set out to tell anyone’s story but my own, and somehow I wound up telling everyone’s.
I’d like to say I will do it again, page after page, on this blog, but if I said that I’d be lying. My next post will probably be about sharpening crampons or something, not anything worth reading. But I gained a lesson. I was right, reporting isn’t the same as writing; writing is more valuable. Writing has the ability to move people, to give others the same protection and guidance my astronauts give me. It is the company of close friends, a solid cam, a crucial stein pull. I’m done telling people, “I just report, I stay out of my stories.” There appears to be more than one way to get to the moon, and I’m going by any means necessary.

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