"A few weeks ago I sent my son off to Bristol Bay, where a job waited as a deckhand on a fishing boat. Ethan was excited to have lined up one of the summer jobs most coveted by teenagers in our small coastal town: high pay and hard work chasing salmon in the wild estuaries of Alaska. He is 18, tall and strong, a varsity athlete freshly graduated from high school with college ahead in the fall. But as we walked to the security-free gate in Anchorage where his prop plane to Dillingham waited, he admitted to a few butterflies.
I felt them, too. A summer like this would change him, whatever happened. I had only to think about the summer when I, too, went to sea in Alaska. It had been a season that changed everything, including the direction of my career as a writer.
My invitation to work as a deckhand came at the end of a long, dark winter. I happily shelved the historical fiction that had swallowed me whole, relieved to trade the guilt of long hours at a snowbound desk for the simple urgency of boat chores. (Advice to youthful writers: it’s ok to work on a first novel, finish the handmade cabin you live in, and share the good life with your girlfriend or boyfriend, but choose only two of the above at a time.)”
More from author Tom Kizzia’s original essay on the Powell’s blog: http://powells.us/15uLBPf