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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, it worked.

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 that much?
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 some experience.

QUESTION: Wayne, you've encouraged more writers and been a part of more writers' careers than anyone I know. Why do you encourage writers?
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 writing?
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.