You never have writers block if you can complain about everything

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 3, 2015

Recently I’ve been spending part of my days introducing myself to our guest columnists and reaching out to attract new guest columnists.
A frequent concern among columnists is the regularity of their product. It can be hard to write a 500-or-so word essay once a week or even every other week, so I hear.
I envy their hesitation. Really, I do.
I don’t post much on social media, but that’s mostly because if I started, I’d not stop until the wee hours of the morning, and nobody wants that. Likewise, if not careful here, my columns could easily digress into Andy Rooney-like complaints about the most mundane of observations. In his 40 years at CBS, he broadcast essays on topics ranging from coffee cans to pill bottle to his eyebrows. He could pull it off, of course. He had the age and the pleasantly gruff attitude that comes with age to pull it off. I don’t yet have the age, although I can certainly muster the rest of it.
I probably need to get out more. Except, of course, when I do go out, there is usually some small thing that so thoroughly confuses and irritates me I can’t help myself. Before I know it, I’ll have constructed a lengthy jeremiad against, oh, say, bottled water.
For instance, here’s a fun fact. Did you know you can buy an inflatable mattress from Walmart’s online store to be picked up this very day at the local Walmart for considerably less money than you can buy it off the shelf? And yet if you try to buy it off the shelf with the advertised online price without first buying it online, the whole system falls apart and the employee stares, helplessly dumbfounded at your naiveté.
Speaking of stores, did you know there’s an isle in our Winn Dixie (the one on Highway 11) that has an isle labeled “New Age Beverages?” There is. Also on this isle we have “Kool Aid, Punch, Canned Juices, Bottled Juices and Aseptic Juices,” whatever those are.
New age, as I understand it, typically refers to things (usually medicine and philosophy) that’s contrary to traditional Western culture. I haven’t a clue how this relates to food and beverages, but so far as I can tell, the label is applied to teas and drinks that don’t contain sugar and unnatural flavorings and colorings (as opposed to Kool Aid, I guess). That we should relegate healthy beverages to the same crazy, New Age corner as, say, Eastern shamanism seems extreme to say the least, but there you are.
But I digress. I was writing about column writing.
In general, I prefer columns that focus more on the person. That’s what makes columns interesting, not the opinion itself so much as the revelations about the author. So, if you’re an interesting person—and most of us are—then you can probably write an interesting column.
I very much look forward to getting to know more of our guest columnists, working with them and reading their work. And if you have ideas for a column—or even a letter to the editor—please, don’t hesitate to call or shoot me an email.

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