Ramsey County Historical Society: A Private Wilderness

The personal diaries of one of America’s best-loved naturalists, revealing his difficult and inspiring path to finding his voice and becoming a writerWhat strikes the reader is Olson’s persistence: he never gave up—even through reams of rejection letters and failed attempts to “break through” as a writer. Finally, when Olson was in his fifties, he spoke to a national conference on wilderness preservation. The publisher Alfred A. Knopf was in the audience. Knopf saw potential in Olson’s work and the rest, as they say, is history.

The journals seem somewhat at odds with the popular view of Olson as a confident, charming man who was ultimately successful in saving the Boundary Waters and advocating for national wilderness preservation. Through his contemplations, Olson freely acknowledges periods of depression and discouragement in his quest to publish. But his reflections are the honest depictions of a person struggling to hone his craft and find a way to disseminate his personal view of the natural world. Anyone who is working to write and publish may see in his dedication a path towards realizing their own vision. And if they happen to visit the wilderness for inspiration, Olson would be the first to approve.

Full review at Ramsey County Historical Society. 

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