Okay, so I recognize that having an FAQ about myself is arrogant, but I’m naturally an introvert. I like to write things, and read them, and analyze them and it’s easier to do that if I write them down. So yeah, we can talk about this stuff over a beer if you like, and if you want to employ me you can comb this page for conversation starters in that interview, but I largely started it to get my own thoughts in order.
What’s this “Archer, rider, fencer” tag on your website / Facebook
So, at various times in my life, I have had this “residual self-image” (all credit to The Matrix for introducing me to that phrase) of myself as this Rambo / Aragorn / Ged / Arya Stark-type with serious medieval skills, yo. So when I get a chance I learn another of those skills, just in case the zombie apocalypse / Evil Dead / cosplay convention comes to town and is like “hey, we need a guy who can fall off a horse while missing a bulls-eye by 6 yards” I can be all “I’m your, Huckleberry.”
But seriously, archery, riding, fencing (and someday, when I have the free time – falconry!) are fun, take enormous dedication and skill, and let me dial in that hyper-focus on something recreational.
How many jobs have you had?
Last count? 24. From grounds keeper to professor.
How did you become a falconer?
Slowly. Carefully. With respect for the idea that to be a falconer you must take a wild animal and handle it, without harming it and ideally improving it’s situation. This takes knowledge, and skill, and a certain stubbornness. It required me to really consider if I had the time, the space, and the finances to do right by a hawk. It is a massive commitment, bigger perhaps than any I will ever make again; for reference, it took me 20 years to become a falconer, and only 4 to ask my wife to marry me.
How many jobs have you quit because you couldn’t hack it?
One. Ask me sometime, I’ll tell you about it.
What’s your dream job?
I don’t have one. Seriously, does anyone “dream” of a job? Someone must, but I don’t; it’s a foreign concept for me. I work so I can live a life well-lived. Sometimes, often in fact, having a great job helps me lead a great life. It’s not just money I’m talking about (big wads of don’t hurt though) but the fulfillment of a challenging task well-done. But whatever or wherever I’ve been working, I’ve never lain awake at night going “Man, I wish I was employed doing…” I mean, I did lie awake a lot at night thinking about dumb things I said. Or whether I could afford a vacation to Easter Island (for real, I haven’t yet), but certain I could swing Iceland if I had more time and fewer animals. I like what I do, right now, where I am. I suggest you be sure you do as well. If not, well, go do something else. Life is way to short to sweat about dream jobs.
You have a creative writing degree, should I get one?
Do you want one? I went to school to study things I was interested in. I didn’t really expect to get out of undergrad, pick up a newspaper and start circling jobs advertising their need for skilled Philosophers or men of “English Letters” (I was kind of hoping the Anthropology thing would be more like Indiana Jones, but that took, I think, one class to squelch that thought). You should go to college and study a subject if it interests you. Getting paid for it will come later. Maybe. Or not. And if it doesn’t, at least you learned about something you actually liked.
Your undergrad looks like you prepped for Law School
It sure does.
Why didn’t you stay in the newspaper business?
Well, I mean, I was laid off when the paper I was at downsized all it’s entry level newsroom jobs at once. And a lot of conversation at the time was about “how dead newspapers will be in 10 years” and the like. I loved it there, I loved the smell of the paper and ink, and I really dug the energy of the newsroom. If you’ve never been in one, it’s tough to explain. It’s like being in a room with all the smartest people you know, and they’re all very excited, and constantly just found out about facts that no one else knows, and they want to share that information with everyone who will listen. And everyone looks like they slept just last month and cut their hair without a mirror. And the coffee is always there, and always 3 days old, and sometimes it doesn’t have a cigarette floating in it. It’s wonderful, and alive, and I miss it. But, alas, the information network moves on, and so do I.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
10 years ago, I’d have said “teaching writing at a fabulous university,” 5 years ago I’d have said “owning a game design company” and this year I’d say “renewing a lease on my current store and growing our tree farm.” But, you know, I really have no clue. I live my life like it’s improv night at the local comedy club, saying “yes” to as many things as I can, as fast as I can, only pausing to straighten out priorities. I do hope to do those things,and I generally manage to do them, but I also accept that 5 years is a long time, and I might be dead, or bankrupt, or so rich I can do whatever I want or, exactly where I am now, and all of those would be just fine with me.
Do you still play games?
I play D&D monthly, when I can. I play cards often, nightly if I could, but I mean like Rummy, Euchre, Hearts, Poker, Piquet (someone teach me Bridge). Board games more often, miniatures a little.
The spelling of “Vercant” is unusual, where did it come from?
My family name is uniquely spelled, and I am the only one with my full name. According to family legend, many years ago there was an argument among three brothers whose father had recently died. You see, their family had recently immigrated to America, and their family farm was all they had. Because their father died without a will, each of the brothers felt they had an equal claim on the land. The eldest believed he should receive the farm, because as the oldest their father would have naturally given it to him. The youngest believed that since he worked the hardest, the farm should be his. And finally, the middle child believed that since he had managed the farm’s finances, only he had a complete and true claim.
The brothers bickered, and could not agree on any one claim. So contentious did the argument become that they eventually agreed to sell the property and split the money among themselves, but not before each brother changed the spelling of his name by a single letter so as to never be associated with the other two. My ancestors became the Vercant family.
Is that story true?
Maybe. If it’s not, it’s still a pretty good reminder not to let the division of wealth change who you are.