Over the past 12, going on 13 years working as a landman, I’ve seen a lot of shady shit, drank (probably too many) beers, told a lot of stories, and met a lot of really interesting people. Most times if you had the chance to meet a master mechanic down in Gonzales, Texas, you’d think he’s just a regular guy, not that interesting. After a couple of beers though…the stories start flowing. That guy has seen some really crazy shit in his time. Getting familiar enough for him to share some of those stories might just cost a beer and an hour of your time…but most people aren’t going to slow down for long enough to get there. I don’t just love to tell my own stories, I love to hear other people’s. The “art of storytelling” is something that very few people excel at. Sure, we all say “he’s a good storyteller,” but how often do you say “he’s a GREAT storyteller.” Probably not so much. I think that getting better at storytelling has a lot to do with listening to other people and learning from their experiences, not just telling everyone about your own.
Most of what I write about is based on my own experience, but some of the more colorful details might be influenced or inspired by another person, character, story, situation, etc that I encountered around that same time. Back when I was a much younger and dumber landman I didn’t care about shouting into the void about people that I worked with. That got me in a few heated situations (nothing serious ever amounted to it, but I’ve had plenty of friends that seem to think I’m about to get fired because of something I wrote). I’ve never been calling anyone out by name whether they’re an individual or a company, and that’s just common sense, but some of the specific situations have been distinctive enough that people know immediately who I’m writing about. As I have grown older, although I am less afraid of a potential employer getting bent out of shape because of a blog, I have gotten smarter about the timing of a story’s release and how I structure the characters and situations within.
It would be easy to just change the names and places in a story and hit publish, but that’s not the way I operate. When I am working on a story, I feel the need to delve deeper into some of the motivations and thoughts of the characters than what was obviously shown on the surface in conversations or actions. That means I have to get a little more creative, because obviously I don’t know exactly what someone was thinking at the time I offered them a couple hundred bucks for a cow we may or may not have had anything to do with killing…but I have a pretty good idea given the background and context of said conversation. Since I was the only person (other than Mr. Daniels) on that phonecall, you as the reader wouldn’t get a proper sense for how violent and angry his response was, unless I add some of that color. Building out the character of Mr. Daniels based off limited interactions with him poses a creative challenge that I rather enjoy…but I also cannot force as a part of my process.
That means I end up with tons of draft stories, all with different characters and settings, just waiting for the right inspiration to jump back in and finish working on some of the details and color. I am certainly not trying to imply that I take myself seriously as a writer, or would even consider myself to be an author. The process I utilize has evolved over time, and it now is more refined and less raw (probably the result of less drinking more than anything else). One of the things I have tried to get better about is writing regularly. Every day I write 3 pages in a journal right after I wake up. That usually has mostly personal or professional ideas/goals/thoughts/etc, but it helps me to at least be getting something on paper. As that habit has continued I have gotten back into writing more here as a result.
I decided to start working on semi-regular posts (I’m calling it the Landman Log for now) that are not focused on stories as much as sharing my general experiences, motivations, life lessons, etc. A lot of those ideas are inspired by books I am reading or have recently read. Yes, I realize that most of the people who take the time to read anything I write (thank you, btw), are really here for the stories. I promise, there will be plenty more. My reason for sharing this specific post is to let you know why those stories take so long to finish. I would love to crank out some actual fiction stories sometime, but that’s a whole different process and frankly I just don’t have the time for it right now. There are a few ideas I’ve been kicking around for a long time about a LandmanLife novel, but I don’t really care to fancy myself as an actual author. I’m much happier being a dumb landman.
If you take the time to read any of these posts, first off I want to say thank you. Second, I hope that you are able to learn something, even if that is just learning about me and my motivations to keep LandmanLife running after all these years. I write because I love telling stories, but I also hope that sharing some of my experiences can help others that might have been in a similar situation professionally or personally. Most of my engagement via social media is limited to a few Twitter DMs, but I am trying to get better about responding to people’s comments on other platforms. If you ever read something and want to reach out to me directly with a comment/observation/similar story/random bullshit, please don’t hesitate. It’s always fun to make new connections and I’m not shy about sharing who I am with the world. Alternatively, if you absolutely hate the new direction I’m headed with the site, please don’t hesitate to contact the Intard with all of your complaints which we will promptly discard (believe it or not, I used to get comments from people saying I was destroying the professionalism of landmen…HA, like that’s ever been a thing!). This is the end of my rant for the day, I want to say thank you for coming to my TED Talk, and please have a wonderful Friday the 13th!