Hey, snoring is the sign of a seasoned journalist

What may appear as sleeping to the untrained eye is actually the complex routine of a seasoned journalist focused on a Pulitzer … or possibly a Putziler.
Some of you may recognize the photo, which is from my About page. The truth is, every journalist has a routine. For example, I always write my column early in the morning.

The earlier the better.

That’s because, generally speaking, I’m not awake yet. Sure, I may be drinking coffee and typing, but if you were to monitor my brain activity, it would register somewhere between an earthworm and the average American watching The Bachelorette (and sadly, I am an average American). Admittedly, my brain doesn’t open for business until about 10 a.m. By then, I’ve been at the keyboard for three or four hours with no real memory of what I’ve been writing.

I assure my editor this unique quirk is the sign of a seasoned professional. And she assures me the reason we need to keep replacing my keyboard is because, at least once a month, she finds me face down drooling on the return key. That may be true, but I tend to do my best work under pressure. And there’s nothing like the pressure of trying to finish a column before saliva short-circuits your keyboard.

In addition to a lack of cognizance, I also prefer writing early in the morning because there aren’t any distractions, such as… oh, I don’t know… How about being blinded by a crazed fly? The truth is, this column was going to be a stunning piece of social commentary. I had planned to utilize all the tools I’ve acquired as a columnist (namely, spell-check and the “delete” button, assuming it hasn’t been drooled on) to discuss a little-known but steadily growing segment of the voting population:

Chihuahuas who have mistakenly been issued voter registration cards in Florida.

Anyone who has written Pulitzer Prize-winning material will tell you it takes an incredible amount of concentration and skill to produce work of such significance. I know. As a recipient of the Putziler Prize for “Most Consistent Use of Spelling Errors” in 2009, I was, quite literally, only a few scrambled letters away from a Pulitzer myself. In keeping with that standard, I should’ve been able to finish my Chihuahua column in spite of being the unwitting target of a psychopathic fly. I have no excuse other than to say, before this experience, I would’ve never considered sealing up my cubicle and installing an air-lock door complete with retinal scanner and emergency fly swatter.

It actually started out like any other annoying man-vs-fly situation.

Fly lands on hand.
Hand shoos fly away.
Then, and without warning:
Fly attacks eyeball.

Things immediately moved into the realm of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, complete with — I must admit — screaming that would’ve frightened Janet Leigh. In all fairness, I now had only ONE good eye, which limited my peripheral vision and put me at a distinct disadvantage to the fly which, as we all know, has enough eyes to see in all directions at once, including behind, which is the direction I happened to be running from.

Sure, I probably should’ve stood my ground.

And if it hadn’t blinded my other eye, I probably would have. However, as I stood there swinging blindly with a rolled up magazine at my enemy, I realized two important things precisely in this order:

1) I looked like a Star Wars fanatic pretending to be in Jedi training,
2) Someone could walk through the door at any minute.

Because of this, the Pulitzer Prize committee will have to wait. In the meantime, I still have a chance at another Putziler, depending on how I spelled Chihuahua.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Still looking for that perfect book for summer reading? Well, while you’re looking, this has been an excerpt from Ned’s first book, Humor at the Speed of Life,available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: Even if you choose Ned’s book for summer reading, you should still use sunscreen.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

33 thoughts on “Hey, snoring is the sign of a seasoned journalist”

  1. I can empathize Ned. Just the other day I was walking along minding my own business when I was attacked by a fly. I shooed it, as you indicated and it re-grouped and attacked again. After three such attacks it occurred to me that the fly was moving in exactly the same direction as I was, at the same speed This could hardly be a fluke. That fly had fixated on me and was re-doubling it’s attack. This had become a personal attack – not just a random fly by. This can be very rattling, realizing you are personally being targeted.

    As an aside Ned, i just did a guest post over at Cordelia’s Mum http://cordeliasmomstill.com/2015/06/22/comedy-by-winters-moon-guest-post-by-paul-curran/comment-page-1/#comment-11693 I would be honored if you had the time to drop by for a read. Thanks!

  2. I can’t read the word “Chihuahua” without my inside voice saying, “Chee HOO Ah HOO Ah” It makes me laugh every time.
    I have always been impressed by your ability to stick to a writing schedule and even more by your lethal fly skills. I’ve been trying to channel my inner Ned all morning and so far, I have a couple of e-mails and a really bad poem to show for it.
    Though the drool is long gone, the Monday driveling at this KS keyboard remains. Trying to fight to write another day!

    Chi HOO A HOO A! (might be a good battle cry, no?)

  3. I wouldn’t worry about spelling “Chihuahua.” Call me crazy, but I suspect you’ll be out of the running for the big prize when the committee sees how you spelled “Putziler.”

  4. I suspect it was the Chihuahuas who made George W. Bush president in 2000, which makes this a totally legitimate story for Pulitzer prize consideration.

    1. It could also explain the cozy relationship Bush had with the president of Mexico… I believe we’re getting deeper into the rabbit hole.

      Or deeper in something…

  5. As a recipient of the Putziler Prize for “Most Consistent Use of Spelling Errors” I think you are entitled to sleep and drool on your keyboard. It’s part of the mystique.

  6. Flies are the spawn of the devil. You want to get yourself a proper weapon. I have a tennis racquet thing, it’s battery powered and electrocutes the beasties with a satisfying sizzle. Bluebottles and wasps set off sparks and a plume of smoke. That’s proper Jedi warrior 😀

  7. I’ve yet to try the drooling on keyboard approach–but I hear it’s big in the MA creative writing program at Iowa. I’m more of a rubber neck, chin down, hands on keyboard typing LLLLLLLLLLLLLLL for pages. I once woke to find a sentence that was, “jl;lkj;lkkllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll…” with the “l” parade lasting–get ready for it—173 pages. I chalked it up as experimental fiction and clicked “save as.” Sometimes, my neck is so stiff and painful that I have to use my hands to lift my head upright. Also, we can make your description into Haiku. How awesome is that?

    Fly lands on hand, shoos
    fly away. With no warning:
    Fly attacks eyeball.

  8. What I’m wondering is how you’re able to fight off a dinosaur with a shoe easier than a fly with a magazine?

    I was chasing a giant fly in our house tonight too. I got it. I sure hope it wasn’t really a chihuahua!

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