Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Just a beaver’s work
Vail, CO Colorado
What makes a column? How do you choose? How do you write ’em?
Well, I guess that logically, that’s not exactly true. I write one every week. So I must have some clue.
Only I don’t. I’m sort of like Fox New. They report; you decide. Right?
I just write. Mostly, there’s no plan. I just go. Whatever is brewing just comes out. Sometimes I sketch out an idea in a notebook – in a bus, a restaurant, between things at the office, a concert, often in a meeting about something else entirely when I should properly be paying rapt attention. Then I just write, often using nothing from the notes other than the seed idea.
I suspect that’s how it is for writers. The critics and teachers, well, they make much more of it than there really is. All this instruction about foreshadowing and grand literature? Pretty much hooey.
Sam Clemens, Mike Royko, Dave Barry, Bill Simmons – well, especially Bill Simmons – just write, baby.
You put the ornaments on. Festoon their work with admiration and meaning for society. Or not.
Each columnist assuredly has their own own style. Some – like Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter – go for the one-liner, and then string them one after another, pearls for the necklace.
Others go for expertise. Think Paul Krugman, David Brooks and academics. Points carefully polished.
Me? I’m all over the place – gushing about my kids one week, admonishing the status quo the next. Sometimes I go for humor and at others dwell on tragedy or the ineffable.
I’m always surprised to learn someone reads my musings. It never gets old, even a quarter of a century now into the greatest of callings.
I don’t have the good sense to care whether you agree or not with a point of view, whether you like me or hate me, if I’m right on or way, way off.
It’s a flaw, a sign of self-absorption, no doubt clinical. I ought to be locked up.
I just write, that’s all. Lose myself in it, actually. No pretension, no expectation, just pure expression.
But I do suppose I am aiming for something. I am trying to tap something of the human experience in this weekly word play, I’d guess.
I fashion myself a social critic, a flawed protagonist, an observer who can’t help but share. I’m compelled.
For the beaver, it’s instinctual to do something about rushing water. For my breed of rodentia, it’s the same with white space. Drives us crazy.
So we gnaw at our ideas as if cottonwood or aspen. We do what we do with our mud and wood and flotsam.
And damn if the finished construction doesn’t look planned!
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