The Whitefish Review Literary Journal, Whitefish, Montana


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Brian Schott


Word game: Whitefish man pursues literary journal

There was a prophetic ring to a progress report Brian Schott's kindergarten teacher issued 30 years ago. It simply stated: "Brian loves words."

The Daily Inter Lake
Jan 22, 2007

Schott, a Whitefish public-relations specialist and spokesman for Big Mountain Resort, is taking his love of words to a new level by launching a literary journal called The Whitefish Review ( Over the next couple of months he will review other writers' fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art and photography, with the goal of publishing the journal in book format twice a year.

He wants the writing to focus on mountain culture and hopes to have the first edition out by June.

"It's so interesting to hear these other stories," Schott said. "I have this sense there are a lot of writers who write but don't share their stories. I'm trying to call out to those writers.

"This is storytelling. There are no limitations on style."

Details of the project - how to make it financially viable, for starters - are still being worked out. His editorial board includes friends Tom Mull, Mike Powers and Ryan Friel. They're working out a business plan and crunching numbers.

Schott expects to pay writers and photographers for their submissions, recognizing the need for fellow writers to make a living at their craft, too. Within the next week he plans to look for patrons willing to financially support the idea of a community literary journal.

"The big conundrum is how to make it fly," he said. "I'm not doing it to make money. It's a total labor of love."

How to make a living at writing has been a challenge for Schott, 35, since he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1993 with a degree in English and creative writing. In fact, a favorite college professor's advice was: "You don't want to be a writer." It's a difficult profession to pursue.

"I knew I wanted to be a writer but I didn't want to live in New York City, even though New York is the place to be," he said.

Schott instead headed west to Vail, Colo., to ski. He loves skiing and had honed his skills on the modest 200-foot "vertical bump" in Nashoba Valley near his hometown of Stow, Mass.

"I figured skiing would be a good way to get some thinking done," Schott said with a smile.

He snagged a job as an editorial assistant at Vail Valley magazine and worked at a ski shop to pay the bills. Schott moved to Whitefish sight unseen in 1995.

He'd read about Big Mountain in the Vail newspaper, and Whitefish graphic artist Pete Thomas was his neighbor in Vail at the time. They intended to come to Whitefish together, but Thomas headed to Belize and Schott went solo to Whitefish. Thomas wound up in Whitefish some time later.

Schott worked for Chris Hyatt at Ski Mountain Sports in Whitefish for three years and spent a couple of summers guiding for Great Northern Whitewater Co.

During his first four months in Whitefish, Schott rented a cabin in the woods at Star Meadows west of Whitefish. In Spartan quarters, he drafted detailed daily notes for what would eventually become fodder for a novel he's writing about coming of age.

"I read 'Walden' while I was out there," he recalled. "It's an experience I'll never forget."

At that point, the stage was set for a writing career. The same obstacle kept dogging him, though.

"You can't eat the scenery," he said. "My dilemma was not compromising myself to a job" that would prevent his pursuit of writing. "I was gathering story ideas for novels, living the ski-bum life and meeting interesting people. It was a cool time and I didn't need a lot of money. But I was growing weary of being very poor."

Schott moved to Seattle during the "big snow winter" of 1996, lured by Dartmouth colleagues who had started a software company there.

"I got my feet wet in the business world and it was an awesome experience," he said. "It taught me what I want and don't want."

What Schott didn't want was the big-city lifestyle of Seattle - commuting more than an hour to drive 13 miles to work. He and then-girlfriend Lyndsay, who had moved to Seattle with him and is now his wife, moved back to Whitefish a little more than a year later.

They laugh about his "commute" these days, to a two-story cabin-turned-office in their backyard.

He and Lyndsay were married in 2000 on a ferry boat on Lake Winnipesaukee, the New Hampshire lake made famous by the movie, "What About Bob?" They have a 21-month-old son, Ethan.

In late December 1997 Schott became the communications director for Big Mountain Resort, a position he held full time until 2003, when he left parent company Winter Sports Inc. to do freelance work. Schott continued to help the resort with special projects and returned to the position half time in fall 2004 as a contracted public-relations specialist.

He works in other capacities as a contracted publicist and often spends time recruiting national travel writers to visit Whitefish. Schott plans to eventually phase out of the day-to-day public relations at Big Mountain but hopes to continue in a consulting role with special projects such as the resort's 60th anniversary.

"My PR role has been nice middle ground to make a living and keep storytelling in my life," Schott said. "Some have the notion that PR is all about spin and half-truths, but I've tried hard to make sure my work was honest and forthcoming."

As the public-relations phase of Schott's career diminishes, it will allow more time for freelancing and "larger initiatives" such as the literary journal.

"I love the freedom of freelancing, but there's very little certainty from month to month," he said. "What's neat about the freelance life is you get to continually reinvent yourself."

Schott is still in the process of reinventing himself, and to that end has embarked on a master's program in liberal studies with a concentration in creative writing at Dartmouth that will take him several summers to complete.

"It's a total thrill to be back in school," he said. "Very indulgent. I feel blessed and lucky to be able to do this."

The added debt of student loans is worth it, he figures. "It's investing in our future."

Whether or not Schott will make it as a full-time writer is a chapter in his life yet to be written. His future will include his love of language, one way or another.

"I know writing is important and I want the future to be in that," he said. "Maybe I'll wind up teaching, or writing a book that will be a home run..."

In some ways, Schott's story has just begun.