In a past life, Trey Bourn was an aspiring writer with dreams of traveling the world to get the story.
Bourn went in a different direction career-wise, but never lost sight of his dream of being a writer.
Now, Bourn sits in his office in the Butler Snow building in Ridgeland as a successful lawyer. In his hands he holds the result of years of hard work: a copy of his debut novel.
Bourn, a Madison resident, grew up in Jackson and is a graduate of Jackson Academy, Baylor University and Mississippi State University.
“When I went to college initially, I wanted to be a lawyer,” Bourn said.
However, the classes he enjoyed most were related to writing and journalism, so he decided to double major in English and journalism. He took creative writing classes and even had a short story published in the school newspaper.
“I had this idea in mind that I would be an overseas correspondent,” he said. “It was kind of my dream at the time. I also wanted to be a writer.”
After graduation, he took a job as a sports reporter at a newspaper in Columbus.
“It was very eye opening to see how newspapers work, and it taught me to write on a deadline,” he said. “It also taught me to write in simple, concise sentences, which has aided me in my legal career.”
Bourn later went back to graduate school in English, with the goal of teaching and being a writer.
“As a back-up plan, I took the LSAT,” he said. When he did well on the LSAT, he made the decision to pursue a legal career.
“Everything just fell into place,” he added. “It allowed me to stay in Mississippi. It’s been a great career, and I’ve been very fortunate.”
He has spent most of his legal career at Butler Snow, which he says shares the same philosophy and culture as him. However, his dream of becoming a writer never went away.
“It’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to do,” Bourn said.
When he was a kid, his grandmother let him use the typewriter, and he had typed out his goal of being a writer when he grew up.
“Every time I tried it, it was almost overwhelming to start,” Bourn said of beginning to write a novel.
After a few attempts to start on a book, he finally finished an entire draft before tossing it.
“I would start and stop and start and stop,” he said.
Until about five years ago, when a colleague told him he had almost finished a book. Bourn read through it and was inspired to push through and complete his own.
He started with figuring out what his process would be each day.
“There is no set way to do it,” Bourn said. “I just had to figure out what worked best for me. I knew that I didn’t want to look back on my life and say that I wish I had done it.”
So, he started each morning on his porch with the intention of writing each day in whatever amount did not feel overwhelming on that particular day.
“Even if it was just one sentence or two sentences,” Bourn said. “But my goal was 100 words or more.”
He also decided to not set a limit on where the story would go either. Instead, he wrote and let the story unfold before him.
The words would go on the page in longhand first, then he would go on a run. During the run he would consider what he had written and think about where he wanted it to go.
“Either that day or the next day, I would type up what I had written and would edit and add to it,” he said. “Instead of freaking myself out, I would just start thinking if something would be cool or interesting and try it.”
The final result is “Cadel,” the story of an investigative journalist on the hunt for the truth.
The description reads: “‘Cadel’ is a novel about how people make sense in a senseless world to justify unjustifiable actions — and come up short. The novel’s structure, likewise, invites the reader to impose order where there is none.”
Those daily runs became not only a time for Bourn to work out pieces of his book, but also time for him to push himself physically and mentally. Eventually, he set his sights on a new goal: the Disney Dopey Challenge.
“It was something that I wanted to do before I turned 50,” Bourn said of completing the Dopey Challenge, which is a series of races held on four consecutive days. The first two days, competitors run a 5K and a 10K respectively.
On the third day, runners complete a half marathon before taking on a full marathon on the fourth and final day.
An avid runner, Bourn has completed several marathons. He started running with the intention of getting healthy and losing a little weight.
“Then, I just kept running, and I realized I was doing it more for mental health than physical health,” Bourn said. “It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done is become a runner.”
It became a time where he could think things through and listen to music, including his personal favorite: Wilco.
In fact, Bourn is such a fan of the band that he travels often to see them in concert.
“Wilco is just one of those bands that just really struck a chord with me,” he said.
In 2001, the band released the album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”
“I had never heard anything like that, and it just blew me away,” Bourn said. “As the years went on, it became like comfort food for me.”
Over the years, Bourn began reading up on the band members and was a huge fan of their music. So, when they came to Jackson to perform in 2012, Bourn went.
“Seeing them live just blew me away,” he said. “I took my son, and it blew him away as well.”
Music is something he shares with his son Austin, 24. In fact, Austin took to music so well that he moved to New York to pursue a career in it.
After 15 years at Butler Snow, Bourn was preparing to take his sabbatical. When he discovered that a lawyer friend of his was also a huge Wilco fan, they made plans to get a group of guys together to attend Wilco’s annual music festival in Massachusetts.
“Just being there, and that whole vibe, with pals who are just like me and going to this small town in Massachusetts and getting to see Wilco, I always liken it to Harry Potter going to Hogwarts,” he said. “It was just like, ‘Oh, there are other people like me.’”
One year, Bourn went to Chicago to see the band perform for a crowd of 30 people. The past tour, he made it to five or six shows, so he jokes that he kind of follows them around.
“I’m not as religious about it as the ‘dead heads’ and the Grateful Dead,” Bourn joked. His office walls are lined with posters he has collected from Wilco concerts over the years.
While music has been a way for him to connect with his son, sports and traveling have been a way for him to connect with his daughter, Cate.
“Cate is a very good soccer player and an incoming senior at Madison Central,” Bourn said. “I was her coach for seven years. We also have gone to several soccer tournaments together.”