I like to analyze myself; asking questions about the motivation
for doing what I do is fairly entertaining and it is cheaper than
ordering HBO for the winter. I’ve spent a fair amount of time during
the last nine years keeping track of life and my experiences in print. This week I want to explore
why I like to write my column.
When I worked in radio, I used to imagine I was talking to certain
people which made it more real and interesting to me. I do the same
thing when I write. I think about a Saturday morning at your place;
coffee dripping, bread toasting and casual morning dress. Then I take
that week’s topic and write about it in such a way that I hope makes me a welcome
Guest. The Saturday morning I imagine may be more
idyllic that realistic but it’s the mood I try to match.
Part of writing is that I simply want to document topics that I think
are important. I’ve written about Viking, Minnesota because that is
my hometown. A few years ago, I interviewed several Viking area
residents and wrote down their memories. I felt like I saving
precious history from eventual loss to time. This was never truer
than in the case of Earl Erickson, who died a few weeks after our
visit. His memory of Viking was rich in detail and he was able to
describe parts of the town long since gone. I used his stories in my own column and used his memories to add context to other stories about Viking.
Sometimes I write just to document facts so that I can look them up
later. My columns are not a textbook, but my research is thorough so
I feel confident using them when I need reference to an event or memory. I also
have those moments of clarity when life makes sense and those are
little revelations I want to document for times when things are not
as clear. My columns are like a little compass for when I need to find true north.
Writing is also a sort of a laboratory for me. I like abstract thinking but
writing these thoughts allows me to see if they stand up to my own
scrutiny. I feel that if I can logically explain a thought, then it
probably makes sense and the idea works. If I can’t communicate what
I am thinking, maybe it’s just because my thought makes no sense
(like now, maybe?)
I like the work of writing. I have times when inspiration makes my
fingers type quickly, but more often it’s just work and discipline.
Writing teaches you discipline and that perspiration is often worth
more that inspiration. Author Stephen Kings says he imagines a sweat shop in his mind where all of the hard work is done and the ideas are then sent upstairs. I can understand that mentality.
The work of writing reminds me of my brother, Steve. Steve owns Town and Country meats in Newfolden, mn and he and I do similar work. Steve takes a large carcass and breaks it into several pieces. I take concepts and separate them into parts that are easier to understand.
There are times when a concept or story is so good that it needs
little processing on my part. The same occurs for Steve when he’s
cutting up primal cuts like Rib eye or T-bone steak. Other times, he
may have to bring together several different cuts, and then process
them into something like hamburger or sausage. I do the same thing
when I take a typical daily occurrence, then use humor or irony to
process it something I hope you’ll enjoy. It’s ironic, but everyone
likes Steve’s hamburger; just like the stories I grind into sausage are the
ones about which people usually comment.
I hope that explains why I like to write. I hope comparing writing to meat processing wasn’t too much of a stretch. My column is very important to me, I’d never want to butcher it.