Deploy today’s coffee budget in favour of story! Just $3.99.
In July, Dave Fonda invited me to judge awards recognising the best feature ski writing of the year.
I said yes because:
- he promised me a coffee mug,
- he also promised there would be no more than ten entries,
- finally, he promised to buy me several fine microbrews if I go skiing in Quebec and I like being owed beer by quality people in groovy locations around the world.
(I subsequently found out he’s in advertising. Tread carefully when being seduced by a professional copywriter.)
I also agreed because:
4. my ego voted YEA, inflating immediately at the prospect, and
5. it seemed like the perfect way to settle in with a glass of wine and the best published ski writing of the year, to learn a thing or two about the craft of narrative, ski and lifestyle journalism, which is kinda my thing.
As it turned out, the best ski writing isn’t getting published.
Whatever is happening out there in Media Land is shrivelling up the market for long form work, and the world of ski storytelling is no different. So what began as a full body immersion in the best ski writing of the year became a glimpse at the declining opportunities for ski writers to tell stories beyond schilling resorts in buffed up service pieces masquerading as features.
Chapter Two. Fast forward to October. Another email pings into the in-box. Jules Older, my one-time editor of the now defunct Ski Press has an idea. (The four most thrilling and dangerous words in the English language: I have an idea.)
Jules has not taken the demise of print lightly. He took to hanging around the Apple store in San Fran, taking free seminars in shooting and editing video, he wrote an app reviewing San Francisco restaurants, and began to maintain an informal e-newsletter connecting an A-list of writers and journalists. Still a reliable arbiter of topnotch work, Jules was receiving (in addition to the bad jokes and tales of woe from his circle of Jokers) the occasional long-form email, outpourings and ventings from long-form journalists with no real forum left.
The trigger event: an email from Gerry Wingenbach, author of the 100 Best Ski Resorts in the World, veteran journalist and disenchanted correspondent with Outside magazine’s Away blog, about spending a night in the Whistler jailhouse.
Jules now had 3 killer stories cooking up his in-box – stories that hadn’t otherwise seen the light of day and had no real prospect of airing.
So he embraced the first tenet of the e-revolution: DO IT YOURSELF.
“Thinkin’ bout an ebook,” went his email. “Are you in?”
20 writers, whose names you’d recognise if you’ve picked up a ski magazine any time in the last decade, said yes.
Leslie Anthony, Michel Beaudry, Michael Finkel, Dave Fonda, David Goodman, Beth Jahnigen, Lori Knowles, Steven Kotler, Skip King, GD Maxwell, Moira McCarthy, Roger Moss, Effin Older, Peggy Shinn, Roger Toll, Kristen Ulmer, Jenn Weede, Gerry Wingenbach, and me.
Skiing The Edge, the collection of tall tales and true does for ski writing what #longreads is doing for long form journalism, what Utne Reader is doing for the alternative press, what Dave Eggers is doing for contemporary writing with his annual Best American Non Required Reading – it culls through all the bullshit and hands you the good stuff on a silver platter. Compiled and edited by a pro, it compiles the best stuff you’ll be glad to sit down with, sometime this winter, with a steaming mug of cocoa/gluhwein/french-pressed coffee in one hand, and your e-reader in the other. (Which I am about to do. With a special sneak preview. To finally immerse myself in the best ski feature writing of 2011.)
Skiing The Edge will be available on 1 December, for less than the price of a ski magazine (or a latte in a ski town.) $3.99. But it will be juicier. Way way juicier. So plan to take a bite. And rediscover what you’ve been missing.