Happy Spotlight Sunday!
About Bob Doucette
I’m a Gen-X writer and editor and have worked in news media for 27 years. My life is a balance of physical things – running lifting, hiking, and biking – and a love for writing and photography. I’m a life-long storyteller and a sucker for adventure and travel. Give me fresh air, a chance at a summit and good people to enjoy it with and I’m a happy dude. I’m grateful to God that I can still move and do the things I love. I also have an affinity for tacos, burritos and barbecue. A little secret: A good meal and a solid brew are great ways to cap off a rigorous day in the mountains.
I’ve described “Outsider” as part memoir, part travelogue. The stories take place while traveling on the road or on foot. When I was younger, I got locked into that “rat race” mentality, and it took a figurative smack in the face to help me realize that something needed to change. As a kid, I was captivated by the outdoors, and I needed to go back to that. So I started hiking again, picked up trail running, and got on the road. What I discovered is that the lessons I learned from running trails, climbing mountains and living more adventurously would not only introduce me to new places and people, but would help me overcome some difficult life crises, some of which happened all at once. In some ways, the dangers I faced on the trail mirrored the hardships that were coming my way.
When you read “Outsider,” you’re going to see dramatic scenes from the American West, quirky places where I run, and fantastic people who have their own stories and insights gained from the challenges of the outdoors. There are funny parts, serious topics, and at times, tragedy. It’s all part of the mix, and the one thing I’ve learned is that some people are built for wilderness, and truly become “found” only when they get lost.
His Writing Process
It’s mix of things. Many times when I go somewhere and hike some trail or climb a mountain, I take a bunch of pictures and write up trip reports, mostly as a chance to do some storytelling and give people information if they want to see the places I write about. The trip reports, and other writing, go on my blog. Often, these blog posts stew in my head for awhile and develop into bigger ideas. Much of what’s in “Outsider” is peppered with stories told in the blog. I’m most comfortable writing short- and long-form essays, usually finding a theme that serves as a framework for a larger, overarching idea. In that respect, the blog makes for convenient source material, not just in the things I’ve written, but in the photographs that go with it. I’ve got one project I’m working on now that is anchored by a single photograph of a guy I was climbing with, looking down at the top of a pass while a storm rages over another mountain in the distance. It’s a powerful picture that was a metaphor for an aborted climb that summed up the hard truth that not every adventure ends well.
That said, other stories come from thoughts and ideas I’ve never written about before. Most of “Outsider” is completely new material based on experiences that encouraged me to jot down a few notes to go with photographs I’d taken, with the idea that I’d come back to those thoughts later. It’s weird how that works sometimes, stories I recall from years ago that have sat on the shelf, and only later become complete ideas.
If there was one foundational thread in my writing is that I try to write in a way that relates to everyone. There isn’t a single adventure I’ve had that just about anyone else couldn’t share. I’m not superstar, celebrity or high-level athlete. Pretty ordinary dude (and I make fun of myself often). But I’ve experienced extraordinary things, and so have a lot of people I know. Their stories are the best ones to tell, people who live inconspicuous lives on the surface, but in fact have done and seen the amazing.