Saturday, December 30, 2006

Column Right ...

Sometimes it is hard to get started. I am not talking about getting myself started although some mornings do seem tougher than others for my aging body. I am not talking about my car although there are times when the old car tries to get into the act. Rather I am referring to getting started when writing a column. Hopefully the first sentence of a column will grab a reader’s attention to the point where that reader will feel compelled to keep reading.

My editor has rejected a couple of my columns over the past year or so and I am glad he did. They had no storyline and/or didn’t make any sense. An editor will watch out for stuff like that.

So the first thing a columnist needs is a good column idea that hopefully will hold the interest of many readers. As a guest columnist I have to “try out” several ideas before coming up with one that may work. Usually I try them out on my wife. If she likes an idea I will work to refine it. If she doesn’t like something I’ll set it on the shelf for a later time or pitch it into the trash.

Following are examples of “First sentence Ideas” that I never did submit to the editor. Why? Because my wife was not impressed with them. Read on:

Wife Reject #1: “Why the bluebirds flew over the rainbow is beyond me.”

My wife said that she failed to see the point of interest. When I tried to explain the point, I lost interest as well. And most likely the bluebirds did not fly over the rainbow in the first place. And if they were high enough to accomplish such a feat, how could you determine what color they were?

Wife Reject #2: “Everyday seems like just another day of the week.”

My wife turned her thumbs down on this “start” with the explanation that it was old news. I told her that I was not trying to make news; rather I was trying to sound poetic. Still she was not impressed. So the truck carried that one off along with the rest of the garbage.

Wife Reject #3: “Walking from point A to point B is not always easy when the wind is not in sync.”

This caused my wife to ask, “What’s the point?” This was a question that I could not answer having not thought that deeply into the matter. I had to admit that it was pointless. So once again my wife saved the editor valuable time and the anguish of having to reject another column.

Wife Reject #4: “Going to and fro and back and forth, etc., can make one dizzy in the head and tired of body.”

The wife told me that this seemed to go nowhere and trying to read it just wore her out. I did save this one for later use but have just not had the energy to work on it.

Wife Reject #5: “Lightning bugs, mosquitoes, crickets and roaches were common household pets in our neighborhood.”

OK, my wife said that this one was just horrible. I tried to explain that this was just the way it was. She told me there was no way that I should even mention this at all, that it wouldn’t fly. Oh by the way, we had flies too.

So getting started on a column is the hardest part for this guest columnist.

The next hardest part is in knowing how to end a column.

(And by the way, my wife rejected this column but I submitted it anyway).

Winston Hamby
Beaumont Enterprise
December 30, 2006


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