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Gloria's Column Commandments

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2004-11-22


Iíve been lucky enough to have space given to me by the publishers of Fort Wayne Reader to write about whatever I want. Iím both excited and scared by this as my writing is something that people seem to react strongly to, either positively or negatively.

That being said, Iím going to try to adhere to a set of standards. Iím fairly new at this column business, even though my first real published piece was a guest column printed nearly 14 years ago. I wrote columns for a website last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I vowed to write a column a week for a year so I could hand the work to a future employer and say, ďI did this, and didnít get paid much for it. I proved that I can do it. Now will you give me a job, darn it?Ē That plan fell through after the fourth month of being a columnist. I submitted a couple things they didnít like, and they told me Iíd be better suited to another website. I will say they did pay me. Actually, they claimed they owed me $1.60, so they sent me two wrinkled dollar bills and a Post-It note that said, ďkeep the change!Ē Nothing like a 40 cent severance package to take the sting off being canned.

A famous Canadian once said, ďYou live, you learn.Ē Giving up writing wasnít an option; it never was. Iíve always written, sometimes for an audience, sometimes for myself. And I have some avid supporters of my work, so I kept my eyes open for more opportunities.

And it appeared in the form of the Fort Wayne Reader. I went in with the mindset that I would argue for a column; that it was something I really wanted to do and felt passionate about. Turns out I didnít have to beg; the publishers liked the clips I sent in and said Iíd make my debut around Valentineís Day. They suggested I could write about love and romance. I warned them it would take way more than 500 words to describe my romantic experiences, but Iíd come up with something. And I had most of it written the same day.

I was happy with the result, despite the suggested subject matter. But I really donít want to take this column-writing gig lightly. Even I have standards (stop laughing) and hopefully Iíll adhere to my Column Commandments:

1. Thou shall avoid using excessive capital letters (a.k.a Dave Barry Syndrome).

2.. Thou shall not beg for ideas from readers.

3. Thou shall not complain about thy age.

4. Thou shall not refer to specific high school experiences.

5. Thou shall occasionally write about something controversial, just to see if anyone is reading this column.

6. Thou shall try to be thyself, and not emulate another columnistís style, although itís okay to do occasional mild slagging.

7. Thou shall be grateful to those who have faith in thy writing and have created the opportunity to express thy voice.

8. Thou shall try to write about a wide variety of things.

9. Thou shall try not to write too much about Bob Knight, the health insurance crisis, the weather, my favorite music groups, the lack of jobs in my educational or professional background, or my weird preoccupation with rebellious, unattainable Catholic men.

10. Thou shall not complain too much about Fort Wayne or thy unruly hair.

This doesnít mean that I wonít break a commandment now and then, but Iím giving myself a certain level to shoot for in terms of writing quality. Some Rules to Write By, if you will. But Iím not perfect either. I donít walk on water, and neither do you. All I can do is to try my best, and hope you enjoy reading it.

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