Nearly 30 years ago Laurie and I were spending the summer in Vail, Colorado while I recovered from torn rotator cuff surgery. I couldn’t windsurf, so we didn’t go to Maui as we usually did so we had to find other things to do and I could still walk. While hiking one day, I ran into the editor of the Vail Daily and in the course of our conversation he suggested that I write a weekly column for his paper.
That’s over 1,300 individual stories that I’ve written for him so far. In my spare time, for the last several years I have been editing these stories into my autobiography. The working title is “Freedom Found” because, as you probably know by now, it took a while, but I finally realized that my adventures all came about because of my search for freedom.
The first two or three years I wrote for the Vail Daily, the editor paid me $10 per week. Then another mountain town’s local newspaper offered me $25 for the same thing and I’ve been charging that ever since.
Sharing experiences is one of the most enjoyable parts of traveling and I have virtually endless stories about broken windows on trains, missing connections, and losing passports over the world.
Many of my newspaper columns came directly from the narration of my experiences of my ski films. Many things that happen while traveling are better told verbally than visually. This is why I’ve coined the phrase, “never ruin a good story with the absolute truth.”
I guess I became a storyteller at a very young age. I think it was about the time I became a Boy Scout at the age of 12. When all of my school friends were playing baseball or football on weekends, I was backpacking somewhere with my Boy Scout troop. I have included in the autobiography dozens of stories related to the learning curve of growing up. When we went backpacking in the Cesspee River in Southern California and discovered that we could catch awesome trout simply with a line and a safety pin.
I have a lot of stories about being the only one riding a surfboard at Surfrider Beach at Malibu in the early 1940s. In those days you had to take wire cutters with you, cut a hole in the fence, then move your car down the highway 100 yards and come back, sneak through the hole and put the wires back together. Then we would surf as long as our bodies could stand the cold water. This, of course, was many years before the invention of the wetsuit or light surfboard.
I have already self-published three different books of these columns and each book only takes about 50 columns. This winter, if I get pinned down by a month or so of blizzards, I’ll pick out another 50 or 60 columns and publish another book. In the meantime, my autobiography is moving ahead – out of my hands now as the graphics and pagination are all being produced by people who know what they’re doing.
Obviously I don’t earn a lot of money writing newspaper columns, but I certainly enjoy doing it. I do earn enough money to buy the occasional pineapple milkshake and a pair of tickets to the local movie theater. Unfortunately, the local movie theater subdivided the seats with a paper-thin wall, so that you can watch one movie and at the same time listen to the soundtrack in the adjoining theater. You have to be very careful which two films they are showing in which one to buy a ticket to see.
I will be the first person to know when they’ve finished preparing and printing my autobiography. I’m excited and you will be the second one when you read it in my column someday soon.
For more of Warren’s wanderings go to www.warrenmiller.net.