categories: Cocktail Hour
You might have seen me recently on the new reality show, America’s Next Top Nature Writer. Or you might have missed me since, as it turns out, our ratings were pretty slim. I don’t want to kick the show’s producers while they’re down, but I need to say that fairly early on I saw some basic flaws in the show’s premise. The trouble was there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for conflict. They invited twelve nature writers to build cabins in the woods and live there alone, never interacting with the other writers. This made it tough to form alliances.
“How do you win?” was one of my first questions for the executive producer, a short man named William.
“Well, you are each given a journal and asked to scribble down your profound thoughts about nature, you know, trees and bugs and squirrels.”
I nodded to indicate that I understood what nature was.
He went on to explain that whoever had the most profound thoughts won. That made a sort of sense, but even their method of determining profundity seemed to de-emphasize the dramatic aspect of a competition. They brought the journals, not the writers, to tribal council, where they were read in silence by a solemn, bearded nature-writing elder.
I found the whole thing to be kind of lonely and depressing, and it turns out the viewers did too. None of the contestants killed themselves, at least, though on the other hand that might have boosted ratings. I was kind of glad when my journal lost on the fifth night. I had written some fairly deep meditations on the spider web above my bed (which I decided not to get out of that day), but apparently was voted off when Ginger Strand’s journal formed an alliance with Craig Childs’s.
I hate losing, you probably know that, but all in all I was glad to get the fuck out of there. I came home relieved to see my family, and my TV.