Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Admittedly, I’ve been accused of being many things in the past. I’m positive that no one is more disturbed than I about the current grass roots movement amongst my readership to have me officially declared a “writer.”

For those of you who only know me through these ramblings, no, I do not have a background in journalism. Wait a second. Actually, the first writing I ever did outside of school (and was therefore pretty much the first writing assignment I had ever completed) was for a weekly newspaper in west-central Illinois. Twenty some years ago, Lowell “Bud” McKirgan, owner/editor of The Prairie Times, entrusted me to cover local public meetings throughout Stark County, including school board and city hall meetings in the towns of LaFayette, Toulon and Wyoming. I also recall having lost my way en route to a meeting in the village of Wady Petra- or was that someone else?

I learned a lot from Bud. Firstly, it wasn’t enough that I simply attend the meetings, but I also had to write down things that happened or were discussed. You see I only got paid for articles that I turned in. Bud also encouraged me to take one of his cameras with me in the event that something amazing transpired. Nothing ever did. Mostly city and county board members discussed wastewater treatment facilities, stray cat issues, and listened to complaints about particularly bad sections of sidewalks or roadways. I think the most exciting thing that ever “went down” during one of the meetings was when the President of the village of LaFayette (I think his name was Peavy) interrupted a heated discussion about noise complaints involving the town’s only bar, looked directly at me (the “press”) and said, “This isn’t to be reported.” Of course I responded by pretending to write down every word that was being uttered.

Whenever school board meetings got halfway interesting, the board would excuse themselves and go into “executive session.” One time I was convinced they had done so in order to watch Monday Night Football. When the meeting later reconvened it was announced that the price of a pint of chocolate milk would be raised to 15 cents, and regular milk would remain at 10 cents. Stop the presses!

After getting into archaeology several years later, I began acquiring the tools to become a technical writer in order to increase my marketability in an effort to compete for an elusive wintertime lab position. I could go on and on about what is involved in authoring an archaeological survey or excavation report, but a quick glance at some of the titles I was either responsible for, or contributed to, should give you plenty of insight as to how dry that was.

The funny thing is that I thought writing in an almost cookie-cutter manner was challenging- until I took my first stab at fiction a few years ago. It took me quite a while to train myself that I could write in any direction I pleased.

Another interesting thing about my writing is that once I started on my novel, I pretty much gave up reading altogether. I’m not sure if that was because I didn’t want the distraction, or if I was afraid that I might start stealing the words of other writers.

One thing for sure is that I am not a reader of blogs. Most blogs bore me to tears with their self-indulgent sermons and fragmented run-on paragraphs. Heck, I wouldn’t even read my own blog if not for the fact that someone needs to edit it.

That typed, I have become a regular visitor to one blog that was called to my attention by one of my readers. I would say that I am more interested in the concept behind The Comics Curmudgeon, than I am in the actual resulting product. I’ve been monitoring this blog pretty closely, searching for signs of brilliance. Strangely enough, his readers have contributed the best stuff I’ve encountered.

I’m very curious to find out how the author doesn’t get hammered for using the work of other people without paying for it (which I’m sure he doesn’t do). I mean, Bil Keane might be willing to let someone reprint his art, but probably not if they are only going to attempt to rip it to shreds. Anyhoo, it is an interesting concept.

For years I have toyed with the notion of trying my hand at a comic strip. Maybe I will get one or two completed and publish them here. Lord knows it is as good of use of my time as is trying to “win” the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

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