Monday, March 9, 2015

Behind the scenes: a morning in the life of a columnist

So here's the column, and here's the thing about the column.  I WAS DESPERATE.

My deadline is Monday morning, which means I usually write my column on the weekend.  And I usually have an idea for a column by Friday.  Or at least Saturday morning.  HOWEVER.  I didn't have an idea this time.  Not even an inkling of an idea.

This really doesn't happen to me very often--at least this profoundly.  I can only remember one other time in my long life as a columnist (Parent Express, Deseret News, the Trib) wherein I had a deadline and absolutely not a scrap of anything to say.  But necessity (as they say) is the mother of invention, and in that case I picked up some instructions and thought to myself how much more interesting they would be to read if only they were written like a romance novel.  And suddenly I was off . . .

Anyway.  Inspiration was not striking this weekend.  So I looked at my blog here to see if I could get an idea and the only thing that I had any energy about was The Good Wife thing.  But when I started to write that column it felt very whiney and way too specifically about me and my taste.

That's the thing about writing a column.  It's a personal column, but it has to be about "us" and not just about "me."  And the column I was writing last night was all about me.  ME ME ME ME ME BORING ME.

So then I went to bed.  Grumpy.  And as I lay there in bed I thought of all the things that were pissing me off.  AND THEN I HAD AN IDEA!  Why not do what Lisa B. often does?  Write charming chatty little notes, except  make all of my notes grumpy?  To match my mood!

And then this morning when I got up?  Voila!

It's not the best column I've ever written, but it's a finished column.  And like I always say to my writing students--a bad something is better than a good nothing.


Louise Plummer said...

This is just what I imagine being a columnist is like. And it turned out wonderful.

I agree about 3rd South. What is parking and what is a lane? Is it okay to kill a bicyclist when you're turning right?

James said...

Love the article. I agree with you on The Good Wife. I hope it has not "jumped the shark."