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Sometimes writers need extra protection
Some days, I’m lucky not to be shot.
But the potential shooters aren’t angry readers or criminal types.
They’re loyal, inner-circle associates who endure my impulses. The problem is my brain, or the lack of brains. Either way, what gray matter I have rarely shifts into neutral.
I pack my days tightly, so strategic planning is crucial. I believe in a prioritized to-do list, but I don’t want to live as if I’m wearing a corset with the strings pulled too tight. Give me some room to wiggle and wake up with a “Hey, let’s try this.”
After 40 years, most of the folks close to me know that “hey” look. When I stop by their desks with a plump folder, I imagine them reaching into a desk drawer and pulling out a pistol. Luckily, they don’t. Instead, they grin and ask, “Whatcha got?”
They listen and I can see them mentally reshuffling their to-do list.
The next question is: “When do you need it?”
The answer is always: “Yesterday.”
Maybe it’s because Christmas was close. I got a break, again, last week. Pistols weren’t pulled when I mentioned putting together a collection of my columns in spiral-bound booklet form.
“How many are you thinking?”
When I said that I’ve written about 2,000, I could see facial muscles tighten. To ease the tension, I added that about 125 columns would make a nice start. A “real” book would take much longer.
“So, when would you like to have the booklets ready?”
Ho, ho, ho. How about by Christmas?
I was prepared to duck, but instead only smiles fired back.
Loyalty is priceless and a lifesaver.
This project has been rumbling around in my brain for a long, long time. It needed a jump-start. Without the last minute, some of life’s best things would never happen. One of my mentors, the late J.W. Fanning, said, “Only words live forever.” And those words haunt me.
Grandsons Wyatt, Hayes, William, Henry, Fenn, and their cousin to be born in 2012, never got to know some of the people who have meant so much to me. Perhaps this collection of words will help people like my dad, their great-grandfather, come alive and live with them, too.
Fanning also liked to quote the Spanish proverb: “Sometimes, I sit and think. Sometimes, I just sit.” For this casual dress rehearsal for a “real” book, I used that as my theme, adding, “But sometimes, I write.” And sometimes, I like to prop my feet by the fire and read a good book.
As usual, my projects aren’t a one-man band. It takes an orchestra to turn my noisy ideas into music. Without a band of teammates, I’d be in trouble.
And then there’s you.
Without readers, I wouldn’t write. I am grateful for your loyalty, encouragement — and your patience, too. But my luck may be running out. So I asked some if you see Santa, ask him to drop a bulletproof vest down my chimney this Christmas, please.
I might need it.
Dink NeSmith is president of Community Newspapers Inc. and represents the 10th Congressional District on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.