Gentle Reader, this is the second essay I’ve written for this week’s spot.The first one stunk.
So, here’s the thing; the original subject is vastly important. It’s polarizing with the potential to get people from zero to irate in just a couple of words. And just like too many issues these days, the divide between each side is the distance between here and the sun. I’m not sure if you know this Gentle Reader, but one of the aims in my writing is to amuse. And, to me at least, this subject is not funny.
But I thought I had an interesting take. One that would throw a new light onto the entire debate. I pictured my particular combination of 600 words the words that would, if not bring everyone around the campfire for a rousing Kumbaya, at least shed new light on the subject, and provoke conversation.True to my morbidly geeky soul, I framed my column as a science fiction story set in the future. The characters looked back from a time where the issue had been solved many years ago. They’d look at 2019 and feel the kind of bemusement and shame we in 2019 feel about the Salem witch trials, or new Coke.I wanted to write the piece without offending or alienating a single pair of eyeballs. Writing that, I cringe at how utterly deluded and smug that ambition was. Stratospherically better minds than mine understand that a subject that doesn’t arouse passion is not a subject of import.Here is the evolution of one of my columns: I choose a topic. Then the piece starts writing itself in my head. Usually by the time I put finger to key board I have a pretty clear idea of where it’s going. But I can’t begin the actual process of writing until I come up with an opening line. And, Petey and The Kid will sadly attest that often this step is torturous for all of us. I wander around like an especially hammy silent film actress, bemoaning my lack of inspiration and proclaiming that I’m not cut out to write anything more than a grocery list, and I should’ve become the guy at the circus that follows the elephants around with a broom.Walking the dog and showering are the activities that are the most frequent opening line maternity wards. Some weeks I log more dog walking miles than a long-haul trucker and take so many showers that I start to look like the creature of the Black Lagoon’s mother-in-law.But, once I start, my trouble is not finding things to write, but finding a way to stop writing. Brevity is not a familiar companion.
For that first piece, every word was a struggle. And it showed. It was a mediocre essay written by a self-effacing yet nauseatingly earnest middle schooler. In my heart I knew it; I couldn’t admit it, but I knew it.
The Kid knew it. My child is my first look editor. When I asked for an opinion, I was met with an uncomfortable silence—for the first time since I’ve been writing.So finally, I admitted its awfulness and begged my kind, patient and accommodating editors to pull the original column.
And, since I strive to make this a “warts and all” space, I decided to document for you, Gentle Reader, the path that brought this week’s word to page. Funnily enough, this replacement column only took one short shower and one quick dog walk in the rain.
The result is one column, a wet dog, and freshly shaved legs (mine, not the dog’s).Thanks for your time.