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Talent Q & A: Writer Ethan S

We are on a mission to get to know our talent better. This week we caught up with 6-star writer Ethan S., a wilderness enthusiast specializing in ecology and outdoor recreation.

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer and how did you get your start?

A: I’ve been writing since I was a kid; I probably wrote approximately 6,000 stories about wolves and dogs in elementary school, inspired by too much Jack London and Ernest Thompson Seton.

I started writing professionally when my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I moved to a small town in Oregon after college.

After failing to muster up any wildlife/forestry jobs (my academic background’s in ecology), I somehow wound up writing for the local newspaper—despite a distinct lack of journalism experience.

An instructive trial-by-fire, to say the least—especially when it came to scribbling under deadlines. Springboarding off that stint, I became a full-time freelancer (writer and naturalist) a couple of years later.

If you could give a new writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

A: It’s one he or she has probably heard before: read. As much as you can. In fact, treat it as occupational training.

And read broadly, too: books, newspapers, and magazines, for sure, but also repair manuals, instruction booklets—heck, I’ve been inspired by the writing on signage. (I’m not kidding.)

When I’ve been too busy to read—that is, when I haven’t made the time to read—it doesn’t take long for me to see the effects in my writing: a kind of staleness, falling back on rote language and technique.

Reading sharpens your writing tools, helps you better define your own voice, and all around stokes your creative fires.

Who are some writers or industry professionals that you look up to?

A: Yikes, too many to name, but here are a few: Peter Matthiessen, Annie Dillard, Gary Snyder, Gretel Ehrlich, Ed Abbey, Ian Frazier, Wendell Berry, Robert Macfarlane, Doug Peacock, and J. Michael Fay (a National Geographic “Explorer-in-Residence,” a job title I aspire to).

Q: Is there a particular project (outside of WA) that you’re most proud of? Why?

A: Right now, I’m most passionate about a work-in-progress I’ve been making headway on lately: a field guide to the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

It’s helping me realize a total synthesis of my driving interests: natural history, writing, and—just as important—spending a lot of time outdoors, exploring. But I guess I’ll be proudest when I actually finish it.

How do you stay up-to-date on industry trends?

A: Definitely an area of improvement for me.

Honestly I’ve stayed most abreast of industry trends (and I’m not just saying this) via WriterAccess: I’m always learning-on-the-job from my longtime clients here, and I’ve definitely gleaned a lot of valuable insight from both the WA resources (podcasts, webinars) and writer forums.

Q: We see you’re quite the traveler; do you have a favorite travel destination?

A: Usually my traveling has outdoor recreation as its focus (along with hole-in-the-wall pubs). Besides the wilds of my immediate backyard, some of the places I try to make pilgrimages to every year or two include the Olympic Peninsula, the Greater Yellowstone, the Everglades/Big Cypress, and the Central Forest of Wisconsin (my home state).

I also love Montreal, which I’ve learned is an excellent place to overeat.

Q: I bet the Pacific Northwest is great for outdoor activities. What are some of the things that you like to do for fun?

A: Hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, and paddling are my favorite pastimes.

And yeah: From Hells Canyon to the North Cascades to the Oregon Dunes, the Northwest is chockablock (man, I love using that word!) with spectacular places to carry out those pursuits.
About Ethan:

6-star writer Ethan S. joined WriterAccess in 2011 and has completed over 2,600 orders.

His focus is on outdoor recreation, travel, and science with expertise in technical articles and journalism. Ethan has a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems.

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