And you readers: kind, gracious, enthusiastic. I shall miss you.
That title — Swan Song — is an ancient metaphor referencing a common assumption that swans are most often mute throughout their lives. But when a swan nears death, that one sings a beautiful song during its last minutes of life. The metaphor is used to point out a last performance, speech, sermon, or other presentation given by an individual before they die or retire. And since I have no specific notice of imminent death and since I don’t plan to retire, that metaphor may seem out of place. Still, a change in editorial needs in this publication does necessitate a Swan Song for my work herein.
I sold my first feature story to a magazine in 1979. That is a great many years in this mysterious and frantic business of writing. Throughout those years I have been privileged to provide materials to 53 different publications, some of those using only a few of my contributions, others among them using one or more a month for years. Just for curiosity, I tried to keep up with numbers of how many pieces were published, but I have done a poor job of it. After all, I am a writer and not an accountant. Maybe 2,000. I can’t be sure. And honestly that number is of no importance.
And there were 8 books in that mix. I set a goal to write 10 and might yet reach that. But goal setting and writing books, other than those books that fall into academic and instructional/informational arenas in their myriad forms, is less that fruitful. Some muse or imagination or deep sentiment (and other guides) are needed for storytelling. And these guides sometimes hide and fail to show up on schedule. So, setting timetables within those goals can make one grumpy.
I do have book number nine finished but not yet published: “God’s Fingerprints: A Wanderer’s Journey.” Stories birthed in the mountains of British Columbia, the woodcock haunts of Vermont, the tumbleweeds of Kansas, the tipi rings of Montana, the mud-between-the-toes of country lads in Mississippi, and the sickle bush and wait-a-bit thorns of South Africa. All, at least this was my intent, bring honor to the Creator, God.
Among those magazines mentioned above, Today in Mississippi stands out. I have done the outdoor column in it for almost 20 years. And never once was I disappointed to have my byline in there. This publication was and is a jewel.
And you readers: kind, gracious, enthusiastic. I shall miss you. You have invited me into your churches and libraries and civic clubs. Please continue to do so. Contact me at by email. My deep appreciation to you all. And farewell.