So what do you do when you're a past editor of a ski magazine with no magazine to edit and some killer, unpublished stories about life on and around the world's best ski slopes?
If you're like Jules Older, longtime editor of Ski Press magazine, you contact your favourite ski writers, spin some pie-in-the-sky pitch about e-publishing a book of ski stories sometime in the next six weeks(!) and wait to see who takes the bait.
Maybe it was his timing. I mean, what are ski writers doing in late October other than waiting for the season to begin? Maybe it was the fact Jules is a talented, likeable guy most people have trouble saying no to. Maybe it was the craziness of the idea, given he knew nothing whatsoever about e-publishing.
Whatever the reason, 20 writers — including some of your favourites from around here — said "I'm in," and six weeks later, Skiing the Edge: Humor, Humiliation, Holiness & Heart is available for download at the Apple iTunes store and Amazon.com. Within the next few days, it'll make a run at the bestseller list on Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony Reader as well.
For something less than the price of the worst ski mag on the rack — $3.99 and currently a sizzling $3.19 on Amazon — you can satisfy your jones for tall tales of adventure, frustration, death-defying if questionably intelligent acts, humour, pathos and general silliness revolving around one of the things you hold dearest in life: sliding down snowy slopes.
More importantly, for those of you who actually like to read about such things, you don't have to be distracted by those annoying photographs that seem to take up so much space in magazines where words should be.
And words there are. Nothing is more liberating to a writer than the unfettered experience of writing for electronic publication. No word count! No agonizing over what to cut to fit the space. Tell your story in as many words as it takes to tell your story.
Did I say stories?
Hey, can't go skiing without stories. Like Peggy Shinn's run-in with the cute pooch at the airport on her trip back from skiing in Quebec. The nice doggy seemed so well-trained, sitting quietly next to her luggage. The cops he worked with? Not so well-trained.
Or Roger Toll's recollection of all the masochistic reasons we ski in Circles of Pain. Or Steve Kotler's bone-jarring Cliff Hucking in Ten Easy Lessons.
Skiing's all about stories and the collected writers in Skiing the Edge tell some of the best.
Jules says if he doesn't lose his shirt on Skiing the Edge he, which is to say we, might make it an annual event. Kind of a literary Warren Miller movie, something to warm your heart and get you looking forward to the season.
We'll see. But the truth is, whether you're a skier, a border or someone who's never contemplated either sport, Skiing the Edge is a damn fine collection of stories to pass a winter's evening.