Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Essay on Not Writing about Belly Button Fluff

I have been writing a weekly column for the local newspaper since the mid 1990s. Regular readers will agree some weeks are better than others. Sometimes it is a struggle to come up with something witty, clever and fun for the space.

Writing the column is fairly easy once I get going. Coming up with the idea is not always so. Once I stumble upon something brilliant (er, whatever) I can usually pound out the verbiage in short order. Getting to that point, though, can take the whole week and sometimes I am staring at the computer screen with little beads of sweat forming on my crinkled brow as the clock tick tick ticks in the background and the deadline looms. The column was originally named "Past Deadline" to denote an afterthought on whatever is happening in life. Sometimes, though, my submissions have been pretty close to being literally late.

Generating ideas can be tricky business. That's why I love writing this blog. My aim is for it to be entertaining for people to read without being a journal of serious introspection on belly button fluff (although I'm sure that would appeal to someone out there - ugh). Mainly the blog is also giving me a chance to record some of the random thoughts that plop into my brain. Sometimes I can expand on these thoughts and turn them into a column.

My long-term writing goal is to someday see some novels on a shelf with my name on them (and I don't mean on the inside cover with a sticker that says "This book belongs to _____________"). This dream is on the back burner at the moment as I work on projects that actually pay the bills, at least while the kids are small and my time is pressed. (I know, I know. Having more time later is a bit of a fantasy - although when they're both in school full time I should be able to squeeze more work into my day.)

The other reason the dream is on standby comes back to ideas. I have some vague notions, but these days my head doesn't swim with fictional storylines the way it used to. I would walk to and from school (elementary, high school and university) and my brain would be alive with characters and plots. I wrote short stories all the time. I was bursting with ideas for novels.

This current subsided when all those crevices in my head were filled with other work-related thoughts, but a small fire still burns - and the embers are great for roasting marshmallows. Eventually I'll stoke that fire.


Mama P said...

I liked your essay a lot. You're a fun writer and it's an easy read.

Steph said...

Aww. Thanks, Mama P! I'm loving your stuff - you always make me laugh!