Did you know that I write one hundred and
fifty-six columns a year?
Really. Once a week for FAOL and twice a week
for the newspaper I work for. That means that
one hundred and fifty-six times a year I have
to come up with an idea.
It's not that this is new to me. I've been writing
one hundred and four columns a year for the past
seven years. I have been writing my newspaper
column "From the Other Side" for almost twenty-five
years, though it was weekly until the last seven.
Over all of this, I have written roughly 1,700
columns, allowing for vacations or times I just
couldn't come up with a dadgum thing to say.
There have been times when I thought I was
completely washed up. Used up. Burnt out. I
would struggle along writing garbage for a few
weeks, then things would just seem to settle
out and I'd get back into my normal routine.
But here it is, cold as the dickens outside,
for Louisiana at least, the waters are high
and muddy and winds are whipping anywhere from
ten to twenty-five miles per hour on any given
day. I haven't been fishing in weeks, and despite
the primary result that this is killing me, I
also have nothing to say about it.
Now, I just finished a column for the newspaper
today about a controversy with the city's local
historic district. But you guys won't be interested
in all that. I had promised, too, to keep you
updated on the building of my wooden skiff, but
there hasn't been much of that, either, with this
I could try to write one of those "how-to"
columns I see on fly fishing, but then I get
uncertain I really know how-to, considering
the percentage of time I come home having
caught zilch. I could write "how-to" on coming
home having caught zilch, I guess, but who wants
to learn this technique?
Listen, you think this is easy? Ask Micus,
Flats Dude, JC or LadyFisher...it ain't easy
coming up with topics, I'll bet they'll agree.
If they don't agree, I don't want to know about
it, because then I'll start feeling washed up
A lot of it, right now, has to do with the
fact that I'm proofing the galleys for my
first book, to be entitled Native Waters:
A Few Moments In A Small Wooden Boat and
will be out in a couple months. Further
announcements are coming, but right now, I
am suffering from my usual problem: no matter
how good I think a piece of writing I've done
is, how hard I've worked on it, when it comes
down to brass tacks I always, always, always
feel like it's complete junk. Horse-hockey.
Dog doo. "It was a dark and stormy night.
Suddenly a shot rang out," rates higher, in
I almost want to pull it off the presses,
believing that I'll be laughed out of the
country, my fly rods taken away from me
and I'll be disowned by the tribe. Besides
that, though, is reading it exhausts me,
and it makes it harder to think of a column
topic for FAOL this week, because in the back
of my mind is a little critter that looks
suspiciously like Gollumn hissing, "It is...
all...worthless DRIBBLE...my precious!"
Last week I was asked to give a presentation
to an honors English class of juniors at the
local high school. I resisted mightily, but
agreed at last. I was really dreading it,
but I think I did pretty good. The first two
questions were if we still lived in teepees
and if we still scalped people I replied,
respectively, we never did live in teepees
we lived in palmetto huts, and no, we quit
scalping people two or three years ago. After
that, things went pretty well, probably owing
to the fear that the practice might be resurrected.
Then one of the students asked how it feels
to be a "famous writer." I had to lean on
the chalk board to steady myself. Me? A
famous writer? Maybe in Franklin, Louisiana.
Sure, I got a few followers out there, not
the least of which are you kind folks here
at FAOL, but famous? Stephen King is famous.
Tom Clancy is famous. I'm a columnist for a
newspaper and a fly fishing website who has
visitations by Gollum. Perhaps I'll be famous
after they put me away in a padded room, but
I doubt it. At least I remembered to brush off
my jeans, so that after I steadied myself I
didn't walk away from the chalk board with
a white behind.
But that's all neither here nor there. I
guess the point is that I chose to do this
one hundred and fifty-six times a year, so
there's going to be times when I can't come
up with doodley-squat worth writing about.
Especially in winter, when I'm largely
house-bound and there's no fishing going on.
There will be a point, though, when I will
be writing about fishing when you Yanks are
still icebound. I don't want to sound spiteful
or anything, but at least I'll get a headstart
on the fun. However, Flats Dude will likely
get a jump on me, being farther south down
there in Florida, so I had better behave myself.
What goes around comes around, as they say.
There's also the likelihood that at some point
I'll be puttering out more nonsense like this,
and my writing comrades on FAOL will be churning
out brilliant essays and witty commentaries, so
I'd better keep my mouth shut.
Coming next week, weather permitting: A
grandiose epic column on the merits of
various diswashing liquids. Stay tuned.