Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Scott Huler—“What You Do When You’re Not Paying Attention”

Published in the April 2011 Boom! NC Magazine

by Whitney L.J. Howell
April 2011

Sitting across the table from Scott Huler, sipping coffee at Finch’s Diner in Raleigh, it was easy for me to see why he is a successful writer. He has a palapable passion for telling stories—in fact, it’s a compulsion.

“I always tell people, don’t be a writer and don’t write a book unless you want to run out into the street and grab someone just to tell them all the little details you know about something,” said Huler, the 51-year-old Raleigh resident and father of two. “You have to have an eagerness for getting something out of your head and into someone else’s.”

It’s that enthusiasm that led Huler to be chosen as the 2011 Piedmont Laureate for his work in creative nonfiction. Throughout the year, he will give public readings of his latest book On the Grid, an in-depth, lively look at infrastructure and how it keeps our society moving. In addition, he’s working on a project to create applications for smartphones that will stream news stories based on keywords and locations.

As successful as he is today, Huler’s career was almost one that wasn’t. After graduating from college, he nearly enrolled at the University of Minnesota School of Law. Had it not been for an uncle who gave him an opportunity to do writing for his business and a friend who encouraged him to follow his lifelong dream of being a writer, Huler would’ve missed a storied career as a reporter and author.

I found it interesting that the rejection of his first novel, which he began writing in 1976, did not derail him. Instead, he scoured his manuscript and determined his best work was the book’s thinly veiled autobiographical sections. His eyes sparkled when he told me he knew he was destined for nonfiction writing at that moment. Writing was his number one priority, and his skills led him to newspaper reporting, most recently at the Raleigh News & Observer and to author several books, including one about NASCAR.

“What you catch yourself doing when you’re not really paying attention can tell you a lot about yourself,” he said. “When I started on my first novel, I’d write all the time. My friends would stop by, and I’d stop, and as soon as they’d leave, I wouldn’t even think about it. I’d sit back down and start writing again.”

But Huler doesn’t spend all his time making sure people “know what’s going on around them.” These days, he spends a good amount of time and his seemingly boundless energy serving on the Board of Temple Beth Or in Raleigh and playing in the Temple’s band. As with words, music is an important form of expression for him, and he’s passed that love on to his two children, ages six and two.

“I play the drums in the band, and I’m also a bad guitar player, a bad banjo player, a bad ukulele player, and a bad piano player,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter, music shouldn’t be a CD or a download. It should be what occurs from bringing your fingers to an instrument.”

No matter the medium, however, Huler said he wants to be thought of as someone who inspires others and always offers to help.

“I want to leave the party one beer to the good,” he said. “I want to be known as a good husband a father—someone who when they saw wickedness tried to stop it or at least raised his voice.”

To read the article online: http://www.boomnc.com/2011/04/articles_fiftyfab_triangle_201104.html




April 1, 2011 - Posted by | Profiles

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