They say all fishermen are liars. Maybe. But dishonest people tend to cover their tracks with excuses, and you can’t make excuses to the sea. There’s a brutal honesty that comes with fishing.
Good writing also demands honesty. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, readers can tell when a story doesn’t ring true. Characters and situations may change, but our experiences are universal, like falling in love or being a teenager.
Some of us would like to forget being a teenager. When I listened to two Fisher Poet presentations at last week’s Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, it brought me right back to the completely self-centered teenager I had been and how hard it can be for parents and their teens to understand each other. Teenagers are teenagers whether on land or at sea.
Tele Aadsen, who has recently been in the pages of National Fisherman with her story about finding the survivor of an Alaska fishing boat sinking, talked about being a 13-year-old at the helm of her mother’s boat the Willie Lee. As she began, Aadsen made a confession about the girl she had been:
“Time out,” she said. “I need to tell you guys exactly what was happening on that boat and who I was at that time. I think some of you are parents? And have some experience with teenagers? And I’m sure that your teenagers are lovely people, and I was not. Take the worst that you can imagine and that’s about where we were on this boat.”
As you can also imagine, the story goes downhill from there.
Here’s a video clip of Aadsen’s Expo performance. It’s more than 15 minutes so is a good listen for a time when your hands are busy but your mind needs entertainment:
In his presentation, Pat Dixon tells a story from the other side, of being the parent of a 13-year-old.
He remembers getting ready for the season with a teenager who is reluctant to help out. Though teens can be a handful, sometimes things are not as they seem.
“Your face falls, but I haven’t noticed. ‘I’m not feeling so good,’ you answer, and I see your scowl,” said Dixon. “I’m in my skipper mentality — what your mother calls, my jerk mode — so I’m quick to assume the worst. I think you don’t want to work. After all, I think, you’re 13 and though you like making money, you’d rather play video games than help out.”
It’s just my first wrong assumption of the day,” he admits.
Both performances are well worth listening to. You can watch a clip of Dixon as well:
Last week was my first chance to see Fisher Poets, but 2013 will mark their 16th official gathering in Astoria, Ore. This year’s event takes place Feb. 24 through 26.
You can also catch up with Aadsen and Dixon any time of the year online. Aadsen writes about her adventures on the Nerka on her blog, Hooked, at nerkasalmon.wordpress.com, and Dixon recounts stories from his time fishing in Alaska on Gillnet Dreams at dixonphoto.blogspot.com.