Thursday, October 25, 2007


I began writing a column on celebrity, intending to make something of the subject in relation to the arts. I have now written 623 of my 800 words and have no point to make at all. I still have 4 days to come up with some stunning insight, but I am not too confident it will happen. For quite a while I was ahead of the game, having one column nearly ready while working and thinking about another, but various circumstances have put me behind and I am now just barely one step ahead of the deadline. I worry that I am repeating myself or that the columns are getting less interesting. Ten years ago I also wrote weekly, but at that time the pieces were profiles of artists, writers and craftspeople, and so there was an endless supply of subjects with no chance of repeating myself. The people I wrote about made the articles interesting. Now I have to dredge subjects up out of my own innards although I do get inspiration from articles I read and conversations I have.

I usually start out with a subject, and just the process of writing gets me ruminating, lets me figure out a point or if I am lucky, several points. I wonder how long I can keep this up. When I was first asked to do the column, nearly a year ago, I said I would do it every other week, but the person they got to do it with me didn’t work out and they asked me to do it weekly. I wish now that I had declined. I have a new appreciation for those weekly columnists I admire: Rex Murphy, David Brooks, Garrison Keillor.


Zhoen said...

They repeat themselves, run old columns when they go on vacation, and occasionally produce boring. Easy on yourself. Go ahead and rework something old. Celebrity is pointless, so there is no point to make.

Peter said...

I'd say Zhoen is right on this one. Newspapers are as ephemeral as toilet paper, although unlike tp, the contents can be reused. Go ahead and recycle a column with a couple of tweaks.

For what it's worth, I face a similar challenge with my monthly column. The most successful ones, it seems to me, are the profile columns, where the people make it interesting, and the least successful are the theme columns.

See if you can't segue some people columns in--the themes will follow like pet dogs.