A Traver Time-Out

A Traver Time-Out

Although some authors manage to make it look easy, writing a good short story is damn hard work. In fact, it's been my personal experience that writing

  • By: Paul Guernsey
Although some authors manage to make it look easy, writing a good short story is damn hard work. In fact, it's been my personal experience that writing even a bad piece of short fiction is no champagne brunch on the beach. Then, when you impose upon a writer some zany restriction--such as that his or her story must revolve around fly-fishing, for instance--the obstacles become almost insurmountable. I view it as something of a miracle that so many writers over the years have been able to overcome the seeming impossibilities to produce short stories that FR&R has been extremely proud to publish.In fact, from 1988 through 1998 we published an annual "reading issue" made up mostly of short stories about fly-fishing. And starting in 1994 we became co-sponsors, along with a fine organization called the John D. Voelker Foundation, of the Robert Traver Fly-Fishing Fiction Award, an annual competition in which the author of the year's "best" piece of angling fiction received a cash prize. However, if you've been reading us for a long time, you may recall that in 1998 we suspended both the fiction issue and the Traver Award. The reason was that, having worked the fly-fishing-fiction goldmine for an entire decade, we had begun turning up far fewer nuggets that we were excited about sharing with our readers. In announcing the suspension, my predecessor, Jim Butler, used a different metaphor: "Simply put, the well of outstanding fly-fishing fiction seems to have run a bit dry of late…So we've temporarily suspended our fiction annual so the well can have a chance to fill up again." And it did fill up, at least partway. Two years later, when we resumed the Traver competition, we once again began to see some outstanding entries. Although we were no longer receiving enough great ones to fill an entire issue of FR&R, we always got two or three that more than met the criteria for the Award: "A distinguished original work of short fiction that embodies an implicit love of fly-fishing, respect for the sport and the natural world in which it takes place, and high literary values." However, it has been six years since that resumption, and I am sorry to report that on our latest trip to the well, the bucket once again came up empty. Of course, I don't mean that all the stories were awful--far from it. In fact, quite a few contained some interesting elements, and we enjoyed reading them. But after much discussion, we--FR&R's editors and the rest of the Traver Award panel--finally concluded that the best of this year's crop just didn't quite reach the high standards set by previous years' winners, and we decided not to announce, or publish, a 2006 winner. I know that many of you were looking forward to seeing a fiction piece in this issue, and some of you even spent a great deal of time working on a story for this most recent competition. Please accept my apologies. And if you're a writer, or merely a fan of good writing on the subject of fly-fishing (as are most FR&R readers), don't despair. Change keeps things from getting stale and, as we've seen before, a pause often replenishes. We're currently talking with our friends at the John D. Voelker Foundation about new and exciting ways to honor and reward good writing about fly-fishing, and I think we may have something figured out very soon. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the fine and varied writing in our "all non-fiction" November/December 2006 issue.