Contained in the Head of One-Man Humorous Manufacturing unit Brendan Leonard

Whereas sucking wind throughout my first-ever alpine path run lately, I thought of one thing Brendan Leonard stated on the telephone two days prior after I’d talked about that I used to be about to pull my carcass across the Sierra and felt nervous about whether or not I might truly handle operating at excessive elevation.

Final 12 months, he instructed me, he’d talked about to 2 separate ultrarunner buddies that he was going to enroll in a hundred-miler close to Scottsdale, Arizona, considering that flat, desert terrain provided simpler operating (everyone knows there isn’t any “straightforward” in ultrarunning, however roll with me right here). In each situations, his associates responded, “Why would you do this? That’s a lot operating.” Their successful technique? Select steeper races so you’ll be able to spend extra time strolling. Clearly.

He laughed and I laughed, however I additionally felt a contact extra motivated for my very own slog. I wasn’t going to run 100 miles, however I figured I might in all probability bang out, oh, 13, so long as I hiked the steep stuff, which now two professional ultrarunners, plus Leonard, who’s perhaps not a professional, however nonetheless is aware of his manner round hefty mileage, stated was cool. Validation!

Inspiring on a regular basis people who dream large, however perhaps can’t all the time go large is sort of Leonard’s factor. It’s why the multi-hyphenate (author, illustrator, filmmaker, editor, gradual runner, one-man humor manufacturing facility) launched his web site Semi-Rad in 2011—to supply copious chuckles, relatable journey inspo, and somewhat little bit of solidarity to the outdoorsy everyperson who simply can’t resist screwing round with their campfire.

“I feel the entire thing from the start has been to only kind of shine a lightweight on what most of us are experiencing on the market versus the actually excessive achievers,” says Leonard. “It’s a lot extra enjoyable to have the ability to say, Hey, did you ever discover all of us do that and it’s actually dumb, however we do it anyway?”

That preliminary 12 months of weekly musings and goofy line drawings morphed into what’s develop into a significant—and not less than from an outsider’s perspective, wildly productive—profession. Apart from his weekly weblog posts and illustrations, Leonard compiles a thoughtfully curated e-newsletter, is growing a podcast with Blister Overview’s Jonathan Ellsworth, and creates joy-filled, usually heartstring-tugging quick movies (Chocolate Spokes, Tips on how to Run 100 Miles, Ace and the Desert Canine) that forged non-famous people because the heroes all of us might use.

He’s additionally authored ten books (and counting), together with a pair of memoirs (The New American Street Journey Mixtape, Sixty Meters to Anyplace), a climbing guidebook, an journey cookbook, and a group of hilarious line drawing charts. Leonard’s most up-to-date launch is Bears Don’t Care About Your Issues: Extra Humorous Shit within the Woods ($18.95, Mountaineers Books), which serves as a kind of gut-busting biggest hits from the annals of Semi-Rad, full with recent illustrations and a ahead written by AJ’s personal Steve Casimiro, who helped launch Semi-Rad to a wider viewers when he started posting Leonard’s musings eight years in the past.

Leonard is characteristically self-deprecating when discussing Bears Don’t Care (which, by the best way, was drummed up after a bookstore-owning pal of his stated of a earlier certain assortment of Semi-Rad posts, “The formatting in that is so horrible, it hurts my fucking eyes,” to which he agreed). “I don’t know anyone who reads my weblog each week in addition to my mother,” Leonard says when describing why it appeared like a good suggestion to bundle up an analog highlights reel. “Like, my pal Ben used to; I feel he’s actually busy with youngsters and work now, although.”

Nonetheless life with slice, San Rafael Swell, 2018. Photograph: Steve Casimiro

That kind of jokey humility is a part of Leonard’s allure, however I get the sense that beneath all of it, he feels fairly rattling fortunate to create issues that assist carry pleasure to others. As somebody who has discovered inspiration, quite a lot of heat fuzzies, and loads of laughter in his writing and paintings over time, I’m grateful for it, too—and thus was comfortable for the prospect to speak with Leonard about his personal gratitude, spectacular work ethic, and secret musical ambitions.

From an outsider’s perspective, you appear to have a powerful work ethic. Do you might have any kind of every day routine or writing ritual?
Oh, hell no. I taught a writing course on a raft journey a few weeks in the past and I handed out a sheet with quotes from three totally different writers about their writing routine. It was Hemingway, Haruki Murakami, and Cheryl Strayed. The primary two have been like, Stand up at four:00 AM or rise up at 5:00 AM and write for six hours and blah, blah, blah, daily. After which Cheryl Strayed is like, You understand, I’ve youngsters. I get a resort for 2 days and I binge write for 48 hours and that’s what I do.

So, I do write somewhat bit daily, however not in the best way that you’d suppose. A weekly deadline has been the most effective factor for me. I might produce one factor that I assumed was high quality, and slowly develop, versus attempting to provide you with one thing each single day. I simply don’t have that a lot shit to say; I don’t suppose anyone does!


I all the time take into consideration writers as icebergs, kind of—individuals see our articles and different “content material,” however don’t all the time see the typically random issues we do to maintain the lights on. Does that resonate with you?
Oh, completely. I might take any work for an extended, very long time. I wrote for a number of web sites that don’t exist anymore. I wrote for a automobile insurance coverage firm at one level as a result of the cash was nice. I wrote catalog copy for Out of doors Analysis. I simply did a set of drawings for Tuft and Needle, the mattress firm. A pal who used to work for an company that represented Gore-Tex moved on to Tuft and Needle and he stated, Hey, you need to do some stuff for us. And I used to be like, Cool, man. I like sleep.

In any other case you’ve received to get an actual job and that basically takes time away from with the ability to write the stuff you need. I simply suppose it’s all the time going to be a chart of stuff you’re actually psyched on versus stuff you’re not that psyched on. All of it pays the payments. You do an growing quantity of stuff you’re psyched on, hopefully, and a reducing quantity of stuff you’re not psyched on, ultimately.


I feel numerous people have a look at freelancers and suppose we’re dwelling a dream life—and naturally, we each know there are numerous fantastic features to freelancing. However are there challenges to juggling so many alternative hats?
I have a look at individuals my age now, and I see them pull right into a parking zone someplace and I am going, Why don’t I’ve a pleasant automobile? Then I feel, You spent, like, three months in Switzerland cumulative at this level, you understand—that’s why you don’t have a pleasant automobile, you fucking fool. You made that selection. Like, would you reasonably have a pleasant automobile? And I feel, nah, I wouldn’t, I’m good.

Once I sit and take into consideration what I do each day, I’m like, man, I labored with these women on this meeting line at this manufacturing facility and that’s work. These individuals go into work and so they’re not sitting round going, My job sucks! They only sit down and do the work. They’re executed after eight hours, they clock out, and that’s life, you understand? So I’m not likely pissed about what I’ve to do for a dwelling. I simply inform my dad: This beats the shit out of working, for positive. I’m going to rise up, I’m going to drink some espresso, I’m going to mess around on this iPad and hopefully make one thing that makes individuals snort and if not, I’ll attempt once more tomorrow. That’s a fairly good life, you understand.


You’ve written in so many varieties and genres, from guidebooks to cookbooks to memoir, however I feel most individuals know your humor writing. What’s it that pulls you to writing in that model?
I desire it vastly to what I feel the choice is, which is arguing with individuals or pissing individuals off so as to get their consideration. That’s not a manner I wish to make a dwelling; I’m too emotionally delicate for that. There’s a lot negativity on the planet proper now, and it looks like a lot of what’s on the web is simply individuals arguing with one another and making one another mad. It’s like, to make someone probably snort—in the event that they don’t suppose you’re humorous, they’re often not going to be offended about it; they’re simply going to disregard you.

I feel to attempt to make someone’s day somewhat bit higher by way of a kind of shared humor is an effective factor for me. I’m grateful that I’ve simply sort of backed my manner into that being a great way to make a dwelling. I imply, I’ve written about issues like my grandmother dying and different critical issues. However by and enormous, my life has been very comfortable for the final, I don’t know, I’ll say seven years since I met Hilary [Oliver, his wife]. So I’m not going to that darkish place fairly often. Generally I hearken to The Nationwide lots and I can get there, however it’s sort of laborious to, so humor is way more pure.

One thing I’m actually impressed with is the way you’ve managed to do actually cool stuff in so many alternative mediums. Is there a medium you haven’t actually pursued that you simply’d like to offer a shot?
I might truly actually love to do one thing with music and I haven’t fairly discovered the way to make that work. I imply, I’m an journey author and perhaps I can department out somewhat bit and get into different issues, however no one’s ever gonna pay me to jot down about hip-hop as a result of I don’t actually have any kind of insider information or something; I simply have this emotion that comes with it. That will be the most important factor I’m inquisitive about—if I might produce one thing that might be significant to a very totally different viewers.

You’ve been going in any respect of this for eight years; what would you like the subsequent eight to appear to be?
Boy, I wish to be alive. That’d be nice. I’m actually not that good at long-term. I imply, I’d prefer to nonetheless be doing this. I’m actually having a good time, so if it simply continues for eight years, I’m not pissed about that.

Once you have been younger—or after I was younger, anyway—I had these delusions of grandeur that you could possibly be enormous and well-known and actually profitable. However to be trustworthy, simply to have the ability to make a dwelling and attain a couple of individuals in a great way—I imply, that’s greater than I might’ve anticipated of any job I had in an workplace.

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