We had the good fortune of connecting with Keller Northcutt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keller, why did you pursue a creative career?
It’s a little bit like the Talking Heads lyric, “Did I find you or you find me?” I am not sure if I am pursuing writing, or if it just found a body in which to reside. Writing fulfills me like nothing else. It is a bit ironic, because the things that bring me the most joy in life involve motion, adrenaline, sweat, and the elements. Writing is the yin to that. It brings me stillness, quiet, and introspection. It is my balance. One of the main reasons I write is because most people interrupt me when I am talking, but if they are choosing to read my words, then I am able to complete my thoughts. And everyone just wants to be heard. That’s why writing for other people is incredibly fulfilling too, because I am helping them share their story, their creativity, and their voice. There are so many stories to be shared with the world!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When you tell people you are a writer, they instantly create an image in their mind of what that entails. For some, they picture Hemingway, a dark room, and a darker depression. Others imagine the #vanlife blogger, coffee shop hopping. I embody aspects of both, and so much more. I am most proud of the diversity of writing I have done, and more importantly, enjoyed doing. I published scientific research on salmon habitats in undergrad. I wrote grants for a trail-building nonprofit. I wrote poetry for myself. I am perpetually learning and reading, and I keep a shockingly long list of ideas I’d like to explore. (Check one off, add three more.)
I have been writing most of my life but only recently decided it was time to BE a writer. And yes, this was the easiest decision I have ever made! So often people are telling us to follow our passions, but I could never think of any true passions. There are so many things I love to do, but nothing that felt magnetic, limitless, or driven by raw desire. Then one morning, I woke up and it hit me like a brick. It hit me so hard I got dizzy and giddy. It hit me so hard that in my blinding pain of realization, I laughed for two full days that it hadn’t hit me sooner: I am a writer. I will be a Writer.
Seeing as I have a lifetime to go, I am aware that there are likely more challenges ahead than there are behind me. I love so many kinds of writing, and marketing myself as the Hemingway blogger probably won’t cut it. But I have been given the gift of an epiphany and the support of my community to pursue what is truly my passion. I have yet to identify my writing niche solely because I feel just as energized editing website copy as I do writing a creative essay. All forms of writing feels magnetic and limitless.
One of the greatest gifts I have received from the writing community in Durango was the unanimous advice to “write what you love.” This was a blessing from the longtime editors, the self-publishers, and the column writers simply to be myself, to say what I want to say. This is freedom unlike anything I’ve experienced. Although what I am creating is not as specific as an oil painting or ceramic mug, the diversity of results via a single medium remains the same. One day I am writing captivating copy for a local business’ products and the next day it’s a technical paper on pH levels and dissolved oxygen in alpine streams. Tomorrow it will be a blog on rural entrepreneurs, and next week a white paper on the solar industry.
I finally have found my path and passion, and I am completely energized by the fact that every day I am evolving as a writer.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I chose to move to Durango simply because it is the vibrant child of the mountains and desert. Just an hour up the road, and you are surrounded by 14,000′ peaks, rushing rivers, and turquoise lakes. An hour south, and you are in cracked desert, sandstone canyons, and blossoming yuccas. My favorite activity for visitors is to put them on the back of my Harley Davidson and ride the Million Dollar Highway, looping over to Ouray and Telluride, and home again through Delores.
As for the town itself, there are endlessly delicious restaurants and engaging activities. I would take a friend to 81301 Coffee for a morning cappuccino, then we would go for a mountain bike ride on Dry Fork or Horse Gulch. Lunch at Cuevas tacos, an authentic and fresh food cart at Lola’s, with a refreshment from their new outdoor bar. The afternoon would be paddle-boarding down the Animas River or out at Vallecito Lake. A hike up Smelter Mountain for sunset, then dinner at Derailed Pour House for the best bacon cheddar bbq burger in town. The train ride from Durango to Silverton is the town’s most popular activity, but as I mentioned, I prefer the ride on a motorcycle (which is about five times faster, and that’s going the speed limit. I promise Mom.) Day two would include another mountain bike ride at Phil’s World in Cortez, CO and a snack and cider at Fenceline Cider in Mancos, hoping to catch some live weekend music. Close out the trip and soak the sore muscles at Durango Hot Springs.
Other tidbits to sprinkle in our itinerary would be the Saturday Farmer’s Market, Sunday Flea Market, live music at the Animas City Theater, food carts at 11th St. Station, fun science activities for kids at the Powerhouse Science Center, and for the friend who likes to workout on vacation, dropping into a class at Catacombs Fitness Collective.
I could keep going, but I am already exhausted just thinking about all the fun to be had.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Grateful to my family and friends for their support of my writing. Especially grateful to Crowdog, who always listens to my ideas.
Julia Duke Photo