Ruth Stanley and I have been friends for 24 years. I met her for the first time when I substituted in the Home Economics Department area at the high school where I incompetently supervised a study hall situation.
All these years later, an opportunity to write a newspaper column presents itself. Having written voraciously for a solid five year period about whatever I fancied and whenever as well, I discover that fitting within a framework defies my study of and respect for literary legends who developed signature styles and assembled words however they wished. At least, my favorites did that, some of them former journalists.
When this possibility arose maybe six weeks ago, I guessed I qualified as a nostalgist and not as an editorial writer with my finger on the pulse of current events, because I am old now. Also, we discussed that I might focus on discussions of buildings, events, traditions and local people whom I remember with great respect.
I felt enthusiastic but limited. I rejoiced at the thought of inclusion among other columnists. I looked forward to beginning a column for a newspaper which was tossed upon my door-step since my birth clear through to the present.
Titles flooded my mind as did concepts. I immediately, upon accepting this offer which seemed not overly bound by conditions, hobbled to my computer room and wrote a lengthy remembrance of people, places, events, buildings, and family–an introduction of myself. I placed the rough draft into a manila folder.
Due date recorded, I felt happy that I would be ready at deadline time. However, I am nowhere near any sort of completion of my assignment. My eagerness, tenacity, and enthusiasm dissipated one week prior to submission. Creativity vanished.
I spoke on the phone with the interim publisher, and everything changed around. Word count limitations, style suggestions, regulations as to occurrence, and prohibitions subtly insinuated themselves into the conversation of one grown-up with another. I felt like crying…but grown-ups don’t.
I detected no hint of payment nor even a thank you…only limitations. So, here I am with an over-long, somewhat stream-of-consciousness happy remembrance stuffed into a folder and no interest in chopping it to pieces. Why would I even wish to abbreviate or fit into someone else’s mold. I never have and, hopefully, never shall.
These sentences are short, as are the paragraphs. My words are simple and direct. I hesitate to package myself so that others might approve, yet I shall.
The fun is gone. I am not here. I have submitted…this.