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The Glamorous Life of a Column Writer
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
A long time ago, when I said I wrote a column for the Reader, someone said, ďoh, just like Carrie in ĎSex and the City.íĒ Yup, just like Carrie.
I hate to burst peopleís bubbles, but the life of a small city columnist isnít packed with glamour, designer shoes, or men nicknamed ďMr. Big.Ē Iíve seen a few episodes of ďSex and the CIty,Ē and I really enjoy it, but aside from writing a column, I have nothing in common with my television counterpart. I live in Fort Wayne, my clothes come from either Goodwill, or The Salvation Army, or a few low-budget retail places, I donít fully own my house, and both my cars are old. Furthermore, there has never been anyone named ďMr. BigĒ in my life. Itís more like ďMr. Smells Like Chili Dogs,Ē or ďMr. Should Bathe More Often.Ē
Plus, column writing isnít a full-time endeavor. I crank these puppies out in
about a half hour to 45 minutes. The great thing about writing a
humor/general interest column is that you can write about most anything you want. Thank God I have an opinion on just about everything. Iíve yet to experience writerís block in the nearly three years Iíve been writing this column.
I feel sorry for people who write columns about music, for example, or art, or gardening. They have to write about the same thing all the time. Not me. Iíve written about straightening my hair, going to a hockey game, my brotherís antiseptic whitebread neighborhood, my Geo Metro, the situation in Iraq, local street names, celebrities, the tabloids and men not putting the toilet seat down, to name just a few topics. I hate these columnists who say, ďif you guys have any ideas for my column, drop me a line!Ē If you have to beg for ideas, you are NOT a columnist. Yes, sometimes itís a hard job being a columnist. You have a deadline, and you have to write about something before that deadline hits. Hopefully what you write is good, or funny, or insightful. For years, I felt
that none of the local columnists in town could do that. I was itching to prove that I was worth spending some ink and newsprint on, and that someone, somewhere, wanted to read my opinion. Thankfully the Fort Wayne Reader gave me a forum to prove myself, and I was very happy about that.
But make no mistakeóIím not raking in the cash or living on champagne and caviar. At one point earlier this year, I had three jobs and was taking a class, and I still managed to keep the columns rolling. Every now and then, someone recognizes me from my picture, but the number of free meals and drinks (or hugs, or autograph requests) has been a big, fat zero. No one is loaning me designer clothes. Of course, Iím not writing a how to column about carpentry or sex or fashion. Iím just writing about stuff that interests or infuriates or fascinates me. That Iím not making a living from my writing bothers me, but thatís the way it is. Thatís the way itís been for most writers, famous or not. One of my favorite poets was a doctor, which pays a hell of a lot more than poetry. Bukowski (a writer people tell me I should read) worked at the post office, apparently. Maybe itís better that way; to have writing and work be independent from each other. Just because you are a journalist doesnít mean you are free to write whatever the hell you want. But those writers who do get paid to write whatever the hell they want; well, theyíve won lifeís lottery.
And as for me, until I get a winning ticket, be rest assured that even though I write a column, my life is no more glamorous than that of your average childless, low income woman in her late 30s. Itís not like it is on television. But I can always dream.