Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mr. Cope’s Cave: Something Didn’t Happen

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM

The following is how today’s blog entry came to be:

I had a thing all ready to go. “High Five, Harley” I called it—celebration of what failed gubernatorial candidate Harley Brown did for the state of Idaho. I was very pleased with it. I managed to express exactly what I think about Mr. Brown, and it’s not often that I manage to say exactly what I want to say. I went to bed last night thinking I would zip it down to Boise Weekly central in the morning along with the column for June 4's paper.

Trouble is, the column for June 4's paper was not finished when I went to bed last night. It didn't have an ending. In fact, it had sat in my computer like a half-eaten apple for several days without an ending because I couldn't come up with a way to end it. When I went to bed last night, I hoped I could knock out an ending first thing in the morning—this morning—but it turned out I was wrong. Somehow or other, that piece had taken a wrong turn and headed me down a dead end.

Yes, that is how I think of writing: Every time you sit down to write something, anything, it’s a road trip. Sometimes straight, sometimes curvy, sometimes as up and down as it is stop and start, forward and reverse, side road versus main highway. It’s all part of the trip, except for dead ends.

Well, I realized this morning, maybe a half hour ago, that my column had turned into a dead end, and there was neither room nor time enough to turn around and get headed once again in the right direction. Maybe on another day, I could have done it, but not this morning. It’s Memorial Day, and we have plans, my wife and I.

Oh, and my brother-in-law Eli, who’s staying with us for a spell. There will be more about Eli later. I’m saving it up.

Anyway, it’s Memorial Day and we have plans. And as I was looking at that unfinished piece, that June 4 column, struggling to see a way out of the dead end I’d written myself into, I realized—maybe 20 minutes ago—that it wasn't going to happen. Maybe not ever, but certainly not this morning.

And by the way, it is due this morning. While a “deadline” isn’t as ominous as it sounds—if it were, there would be few people trying to get into the business of writing—it is nothing to be taken lightly, either. That is why there are editors. To make sure writers don’t take anything about the business of writing too lightly.

So what was I to do? I had half of today’s duties accomplished, and half unfinished with no chance of getting finished. I could picture my editor, himself having to work on Memorial Day, sitting there in his swivel chair, swaying back and forth with his head in his hands, his blood near the boiling point, thinking “What is that damn Cope doing!? Why won’t he send his shit on so I can get it done and got home to my family!? It’s Memorial Day, for Christ’s sake!”

Oh man, was I feeling the pressure. What was I to do? Then it hit me. Maybe 15 minutes ago. To turn the Harley Brown blog into the June 4 column. Yeah! That would work! It’s the right word count and everything. It would work!

But, Bill! What about today’s blog? You have to have something to cram into today’s blog, you idiot! You can’t just tell people that you have plans because it’s Memorial Day, so you’re not bothering to blog today. You just can’t do that!

And then—maybe 14 minutes ago—it hit me again. Bill! That’s it! It’s Memorial Day. Nobody’s going to be sitting around like turnips at their computer screens reading blogs! They've all got plans, too! Just put some crap down and send it in. The only other person in the universe who will see it is your editor, and he won’t give a shit what you send because he’s stewing there in his swivel chair, pissed as all hell at you for keeping him from getting home to his family.

So that’s what happened. I put some crap down and sent it in. It didn't take me long because it’s crap. But that doesn't matter because you won’t be seeing it anyway. And if you do, shame on you for sitting around reading blogs when you should be outside in the sun, doing something with your family.

Incidentally, keep your eyes open for the June 4 column on Harley Brown. It’s a good ‘un.


Just one more level of how this came to be, only on the day after Memorial Day rather than on Memorial Day:

Turns out, my editor wasn't sitting in his swivel chair at all yesterday. He was home sick. (That's ill and at his home, rather than feeling bad he isn't home.) So he didn't even see it and by Tuesday afternoon, I started to worry he'd never received it. I called BW because there was also that column ("High Five, Harley," remember?) that I was worried had disappeared. That's how I found out the editor was sick. The associate editor asked if I wanted to run it anyway, even if everything in it applies to yesterday. I thought about it, and told her "Yeah. From what I can tell, crap pays as well as anything else."

Which is how this and the preceding two paragraphs came to be.

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