Morning Star colleague Richard Rolke asks the question of his co-workers on a semi-regular basis: “Anybody got a column idea for me?”
Rolke, of course, writes his Beyond the Headlines column for every Wednesday edition of The Morning Star and, while the veteran reporter is able to come up with a topic on his own more often than not – he even writes a column ahead of time for the week he is away on vacation – Rolke will sometimes need motivation from his co-workers.
I know how he feels.
I have been sitting at my computer for almost two hours now, trying to come up with something remotely resembling an interesting column idea.
The timing for my column turn, this time around, isn’t great. It’s mid-January and I have written before about New Year’s resolutions. It’s too early for the Vernon Winter Carnival, Sochi Olympics and Valentine’s Day, and it’s a week after Canada’s Olympic hockey team was named.
I had started a column on the art of hockey goalie masks, inspired by the Vintage Goalie Masks page on Facebook that has hundreds of amazing photos of the old-style all-fibreglass masks which had some great paint jobs. Like Gerry Cheevers’ plain white beauty that was decorated with black lines designed to look like stitches, one for every spot he was hit in the face by a puck.
My own son is a hockey goalie, completing his third year, and using the same mask which, when we got it for him, was a plain black mask. His cousin offered to have it painted for a Christmas present that first year and Sam could have a hand in the design. Sam chose a white canvas with four grey skulls on one side, the “I Heart Boobies” logo on the other for breast cancer awareness. On the bottom of his mask, on the front, is his last name in cool calligraphy.
But all that mask stuff (save for Sam’s) is on the Facebook page. Didn’t think I could get 600 meaningful words out of it.
I don’t want to write about the closure of the Kamloops Daily News. It’s depressing that colleagues have lost their jobs and depressing that a city the size of Kamloops is no longer serviced by a daily paper. The Morning Star is doing fine and we have no intentions of going away, and we collectively are going to continue to work our tails off to deliver a damn fine product to you three times a week. That’s all I need to say about that.
Then there was the latest Justin Bieber story, re, some kind of egg-throwing incident resulting in $40,000 damage to his neighbour’s home and the fact that police were searching his home was the lead item on several online news outlets. If I don’t care about the Biebs, how can I write about it in 600 words?
I turned to my co-workers – like Rolke does – and asked for help.
Lisa VanderVelde said she liked my black shirt and how much she likes the colour black. Graeme Corbett said he has trouble coming up with ideas for his own column. Kristin Froneman said nothing though she claims she wasn’t asked.
Maybe I should write about Katherine Mortimer’s daughter Sasha’s dislike for my moustache and goatee, which she hadn’t seen before: “No offence, but it doesn’t look good,” said the Grade 4 student during a recent visit to the paper.
I give props to Rolke, editor Glenn Mitchell, Jim Mullen of The Village Idiot and anybody who writes a column on a regular basis. It’s not as easy as it seems. Sometimes, you end up with severe writer’s block, you pace the room, stare incessantly at the blank page in front of you, or surf the Internet looking for any kind of an idea. Some days they’re there, some days they’re not.
Well, look at that: I’m at 600 words already. And like the legendary Seinfeld television show, this column was about nothing, really.
Anybody got a column idea for me for next time?