WAYNE FEARS OF HEFLIN, ALABAMA
QUESTION: Wayne, tell me why you got started in
the writing business.
ANSWER: I got started, primarily, because when I was fresh out
of college, I couldn't earn enough to feed my family. So, I began looking
for something to do on Saturdays, Sundays and at night. At that time,
I was entertaining Charlie Elliott, the longtime dean of outdoor writers.
He knew a lot of well-known writers and encouraged me to do what they
were doing. I said, "Well, I barely passed English 101." He
told me to try anyway. I began working at it and studying. And, by golly,
QUESTION: Tell me about your first year, Wayne.
How many sales do you think you had that year?
ANSWER: First of all, I really had to study writing and learn a
lot before I even wrote my first article. The first article I sold was
to "Farm Journal" magazine, and I think I made $150. I thought
I was rich. Without being boastful, I sold the first 20 or so manuscripts
I sent out, simply because I had done my homework. But, of course, I received
tons of rejection slips after that. However, working really hard paid
off early in the game.
QUESTION: Wayne, when I first met you, you wrote
more than 100 articles a year. How did you do that?
ANSWER: You must be a workaholic. I worked on Saturdays, Sundays
and at nights. I knew I had to make a certain level of income in order
to make it worthwhile. Fortunately, my parents gave me a good work ethic,
and I think everybody needs that.
QUESTION: Where did you get the energy to work
ANSWER: You must like what you're doing. The energy comes from
that enjoyment. I have to admit I do enjoy writing, research and going
out into the field constantly. The energy comes from doing what you love.
If I were writing about brain surgery, I probably wouldn't have sold one
article. But I happen to enjoy what I write about. It also helps to have
QUESTION: Wayne, you've encouraged more writers
and been a part of more writers' careers than anyone I know. Why do you
ANSWER: When I was in high school, no one encouraged me to do things
like writing for a living. It wasn't until I met some older outdoor writers
that I got some encouragement. They coached me into doing this. I really
get a kick out of seeing someone succeed in this field. I like seeing
John Phillips, my number-one student from many years ago. I like seeing
people take the advice, stay with it and be successful at it.
QUESTION: What encouragement would you give young
writers to help their careers along?
ANSWER: First, I would tell them to do some soul searching. Are
they willing to pay the price it takes to be successful in this business?
Second, I'd tell them that it'll take a lot of hard work. Writing is a
craft, a skill, and it takes a lot of work to become adept at it. Can
you take rejection? If so, the skill will eventually come to you.
QUESTION: How would you suggest a young writer
find a mentor?
ANSWER: Who've they been reading? Find someone they've been reading
and run them down. As with me, and I'm sure you as well, people find us,
and we're willing to share our time to help them out. Don't be bashful.
Ask for help.
QUESTION: How important is photography to your
ANSWER: It's 50/50 -- writing and photography. I think it'll always
be that way. In outdoor writing, you can't hope to take a photographer
with you, so you've got to be the photographer.
QUESTION: How did you learn the craft of photography?
ANSWER: Trial and error. I made every photography mistake. But
you can't quit.