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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

'Judge Others, Judging Ourselves'

“If we judge others it is because we are judging something in ourselves of which we are unaware.” - John Camp


I first met Camp in 1985 when he was working on The St. Paul Pioneer Press.  He was part way through a series he was writing about a farm family in southwestern Minnesota – not that far away from where I had grown up on a farm in nearby South Dakota.  We had a pleasant talk and I asked him what he might be doing next after finishing the series – which ended up lasting that entire year.

“I want to write books,” he said.  “I like newspapers, but I think I’ve got a book or two in me.”  That next spring, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his farm series, a result I figured would keep him firmly in newspapering instead.

So, I was surprised when Camp left to change careers, and even more surprised when he not only wrote a book under his own name, but also started writing thriller/suspense/crime novels under the pseudonym John Sandford, about a non-conforming loner detective.

More than 50 novels later, he’s still going strong, the only sad result being that journalism lost a gifted voice writing on behalf of the underdog people he often liked to feature.  Today is Camp’s 76th birthday and he still gets up and writes every day.  It's part of his formula to being a good writer.  “You have to show up.”

John Camp (Sandford)

Another part.  Write it as you see it.  “Just go outside and look at something and write it down and you’ll find it’s a very nice piece of writing.”  You can’t go wrong if it’s real.

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