If you’re a writer, join the club! (At NSNC, I mean)

imageHey, let’s be honest.

Being a writer is weird.

Most people, given a choice between writing a 200-word essay or being taised in the bare buttocks, would drop their pants before you can say “It was a dark and stormy nigh-AAAAAggghhh!”

Particularly in today’s faced-paced, text-speak oriented world of social media shorthand, the thought of spending hours toiling over words in order to convey an idea, feeling or moment is — in the words of Master of Horror® Stephen King — “A little creepy. But I like it.”

Several years ago, I let my membership to the National Society of Newspaper Columnists lapse. As a result, publishers stopped taking my calls; I entered into a period of writer’s blockage similar to eating a two-pound brick of cheddar; thousands unfriended me on Facebook; I burned my pizza; the list goes on.

Ok, fine. None of that happened, although I did burn a pizza.

Coincidence? We’ll never know for sure.  Continue reading

Thanks to our veterans, there will be plenty of time to disagree tomorrow

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Driving to work this morning, talk radio stations were full of the continuing discussion and debate over the elections. Hosts grilled pollsters, questioned campaign strategists and analysts. Guests expressed their exuberance or dismay over the results. Prognosticators made predictions ranging from whimsy to woe.

As I listened, I noticed one topic that was missing from today’s discussion table:

Veterans.

Without the fundamental right we have as a Democracy to vote, there would be no election to discuss — and without the service and sacrifice of others in defense of our nation, there would be no Democracy to afford us that precious right to vote.  Continue reading

Don’t let disappointment keep you from voting

imageAfter becoming editor here at Siuslaw News in September, I began writing an Opinion piece a few times a month called “From the Editor’s Desk.” It had been several years since our newspaper had a regular opinion piece written by its editor. Being that most of our readers knew me only as a humor columnist, I felt it was an opportunity to show a different side and, hopefully, connect with the community in a different way.

I also saw it as a way to build an ongoing dialogue with our readers so that they don’t just read the newspaper, but feel like they are a part of it. The response has been terrific and, over the last several weeks, our Opinion page has become a lively, respectful exchange of viewpoints and insights.

If only I could say the same about this year’s election.  Continue reading

Making a preemptive strike on our Opinion page

As the elections grow more tense the closer we get to November, the climate of unsubstantiated facts and accusatory rants is slowly spreading from the political stage to social media posts, lines at the supermarket, between pews at church and in the letters we’ve been receiving for our Opinion page at Siuslaw News. For today’s editorial, I felt the need to remind people about the the purpose of the Opinion page, why it’s so important to our democracy… And why, as editor, I have to protect it before it gets too out of hand.

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So, I made a (mostly) serious video for peace

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the privilege of opening “Media Day” for #OURWEEKOFPEACE at The Public Blogger with this video about the responsibility that comes with Freedom of the Press. Here’s the 4-minute video in its entirety…

#OURWEEKOFPEACE continues today with “Education,” and wraps up Saturday, Aug. 6, with “Our Day of Peace,” with live exchanges from around the world at The Public Blogger Facebook page and ThePublicBlogger.com. Join the conversation by throwing your own Peace Sign in the air by leaving a comment, poem, photo or image in support of peace around the world and within our nation.

We need some of that right now…

 

 

I hope you’ll join me for some peace today

imageSeveral weeks ago, Kendall F. Person invited me to be a part of his #OURWEEKOFPEACE at The Public Blogger. The idea was to bring artists, musicians, writers, statesmen, poets and others together to discuss and express their thoughts on the meaning of peace in our world.

Each day has a different theme, culminating this Saturday in a public “Shout Out to Peace,” which is an opportunity for everyone around the world to contribute their voice in their own way, be it through their written word, videos, photography, music or simply by sharing in the day.

Today’s theme is “Media,” and I have the privilege of opening it with a video about the importance of journalism in our democracy — a notion underscored by the fact that our forefathers included Freedom of the Press as part of the First Amendment in our Constitution.  Continue reading

Not being taken seriously has its advantages

image At Siuslaw News and newspapers everywhere, editorial and advertising staff are strange bedfellows. Anyone who’s been to our company pajama parties knows this.

Assumning they can remember anything.

But no matter how much one department may feel it’s more important than the other, both know they rely on each other for survival. Without advertising dollars, you don’t get a paycheck; without editorial content, you are… FOX News.

In which case no one takes you seriously, including advertisers.

And maybe even your mother. Continue reading

That time Barbara Walters couldn’t get a handle on our newsroom door

The Door, sentinel of journalistic history since the 1970s; preserver of privacy to the restroom.

The Door, sentinel of journalistic history since the 1970s; preserver of privacy to the restroom.

For the time being, it seems major news outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC and The 700 Club have backed off in their pursuit of an exclusive on The Door (of Shame Blame and Brilliance) here in our newsroom. It’s been more than a week since Barbara Walters has called and threatened to “DESTWOY your CAWEERS!” And thanks to a case of hemorrhoids, Morley Safer has stopped faxing us images of his rear, which were starting to resemble a topographical map of civil war battle sites.

We’ve also heard nothing from Anderson Cooper, who seemed to lose interest in what he called “Possibly the most important piece of journalistic history since Chris Cuomo” once he discovered the other side of The Door had a commode instead of a closet.

So let us continue on as we do each Tuesday, and highlight an example of journalistic shame, blame or brilliance from The Door, which reporters have been contributing to for nearly 40 years in an effort to preserve history and, thanks to four decades of glue and tape, keep The Door from collapsing in on itself. Continue reading

… This Just In …

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…TAT-tat-tat-TAT-TAT-tat-tat-TAT…

[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our newsroom…]

As I’m sure you can imagine, being a newspaper columnist I am literally inundated each day with hundreds of emails. I then go through these messages one by one and, after deleting all the male enhancement offers, take time to respond to the occasional email sent by an actual reader. Oftentimes these emails are in response to a specific column that resonated with them, made them laugh or gave them a different persepctive. Some will even include the column in their email, along with a personal note, such as:

“Why can’t YOU write stuff like this, you HACK!” Continue reading

Establishing a regular writing routine will shape your literary thighs

Welcome to this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! This will be the third and final excerpt from my upcoming eBook, which I have cleverly titled: Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing. This will help distinguish it from other books on writing, such as “Bob’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing” or “Bubba’s Nickel’s Worth on Righting.” So as I put the final touches on my manuscript, I’d like to offer this hand-picked excerpt of writing wisdom that Publisher’s Weekly is already calling, “Insightfulness that is a rare combination akin to having a Big Mac and carrot salad…”

Bike typewriter copy In a way, establishing a writing routine is a lot like going to the gym. Except that you don’t get sweaty, never leave a seated position and, unless you write romance or erotica, you probably won’t increase your heart rate much.

But aside from that, it’s just like going to the gym.

When I first started writing in an actual newsroom, my routine consisted of sitting at my desk, staring blankly at the screen and banging on my keys as quickly as possible until it was time to go home, where I would do my actual writing.

Why did I do this?

I was intimidated. On either side of me, journalists were typing feverishly — seemingly non-stop — while I sat waiting for inspiration. My brain was still hardwired for waiting until the kids were asleep before slinking off into the study/laundry room to do my writing, as long as nothing else needed to be done. I was a single parent of two children under the age of 10 at the time, so there was always something else that needed to be done.

Continue reading