I did a little quick math last night and realized, to my surprise, that todayís column is my twenty-seventh with our hometown daily newspaper. In other words, itís been six months since I first began writing it Ė way back in September Ė and all I can say is my, how the time truly does fly.
Iíd like to think that, in the past half-a-year, Iíve managed to cover a fairly wide range of topics, which was my ultimate goal when our esteemed editor first offered me this opportunity. From politics to religion, modern technology to music, war, climate change, Facebook, hydrofracturing, my fear of dentists and yes, even alien invasions, Iíve done my best to offer up something a little different, week in and week out.
And while Iíve certainly enjoyed the positive feedback thatís come my way, Iíve also appreciated the occasional criticism Ė it keeps me on my toes.
Looking back, I distinctly remember my preliminary research on newspaper columns in general. For the first month or so, I even kept a list of ďrulesĒ on the wall overlooking my computer here in the office. I think there were three, if Iím not mistaken, and they went something like this: a column is a regular feature in the newspaper, itís personality-driven and it focuses on the opinion of the writer.
Which I took to mean Ė it should be in the queue, by deadline, every week; I should try my best to be myself while writing it (as potentially dangerous as that sounded at the time), and I shouldnít be afraid to state my honest opinion (also an alarming thought when you happen to be as opinionated as I am).
Regardless, I must say itís been quite the experience over the past six months, even those times when my stress level (not to mention blood pressure) began to skyrocket.
What I find particularly funny is the gradual progression thatís occurred in the process of writing my weekly column. At the very beginning, I spent an entire weekend trying to come up with four or five individual columns, so that Ė no matter what Ė Iíd have some handy back-ups in the occasion of a crazy-busy week or a case of dreaded Writerís Block, which I like to call, ďWhat am I going to do now? I canít think of a damned thing to write.Ē
Needless to say, it didnít work. In fact, that first Wednesday on Sept. 29 found me scrambling to wrap up my first-ever column on time.
What can I say? I was a little nervous, OK?
Next up, I decided Iíd write my column while holed-up in the comfort of my own home, on Tuesday evening. Iíd sit down with some good tunes, flip to a new page in one of the many notebooks lying about my apartment and write away.
Unfortunately, there were simply too many opportunities for life to intrude on my peaceful little set-up (neighbors, cell phone, Common Council meetings, et cetera), which would leave me with no choice but to crawl out of bed extra early on Wednesday, haul my half-awake keister into the office and type as fast as humanly possible, typically right up to deadline. This, of course, would leave me running behind for whatever else Iíd been working on for the dayís paper, however.
Since then, I think Iíve finally managed to find my groove. And donít ask me why my current method works any better than those I mentioned previously (itís certainly not rocket science, I can tell you that).
No, these days I simply try to plan ahead and set aside some time on Tuesday afternoon and get a healthy head-start on this, my weekly column. For some odd reason that just seems to work out the best for me. I refuse to get comfortable, however, because Iím well aware that Ė sooner or later Ė itís simply not going to work out that way. And when that day comes, Iím fairly certain that here Iíll be, with ten minutes to deadline, typing away a mile a minute and hoping all the while that Iím not offending anybody too badly.
I guess things really havenít changed all that much in six months after all.
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