A letter of resignation?
Regrettably, I will no longer be your student columnist for the Detroit Lakes Tribune. There are several reasons for my sudden resignation, but the most significant is the simple fact that I am running out of ideas. Last week, I had an epiphany that the time had finally come for me to hang up the keyboard when a friend suggested I write a column about a bus ride to a girl's basketball game, and I actually considered it.
You, kind readers, may have noticed my desperation in recent weeks, in which I wrote about such meaningless and inconsequential topics as pizza, coffee, and -- this is the worst one -- a cold shower. Ouch, right? When a man is reduced to writing about such things, you know he's finally scratched the bottom of his well of inspiration, and had better get his word processor taken away before he can cause further damage to the literary world.
I realize that someone will probably have to take my place, and, since I have been in the column business for a while, I have some tips to offer my successor, which may or may not be of use. Here they are, future Wave columnist; use them as you will. Please keep in mind that I have violated (to use an understatement) every one of these "rules" myself.
- The most important thing to remember is that you are writing a column for a small-town Sunday newspaper, not an academic journal. Keep your audience in mind when selecting your subject matter. People -- even educated people -- aren't apt to spend 20 minutes of their precious weekend struggling through a pretentious philosophical diatribe, having to make notations in the margins.
- Omit needless and excessively long or obscure words, even if that means ceremonially burning your thesaurus. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, recommends using the first word that comes to your mind. It will usually be the best choice.
- Try to put lawyers to shame as frequently as possible. People love to read about an attorney being put in extremely humiliating or, better yet, potentially perilous situations.
- Try to come across as humble. You probably have many more life accomplishments under your belt than me, but still, no one wants to read about your status as a Superior Human Being. Save your bragging for your annual Christmas letter.
- And finally, never take yourself, or the world around you, too seriously. I know it's tempting to try to tackle serious, heavy issues, but people read enough doom and gloom in the rest of the paper. Your job is to counteract some of those negative vibes by reminding people that there are still those good things in life.
I want to thank the local newspaper for giving me this unique and invaluable experience; I haven't been able to find another newspaper closer than Rochester, Minn., which actually has student columnists. I feel fortunate to live in a town where the newspaper goes out on a limb to find young literary talent... and doesn't give up when it ends up with people like me instead.
Next, I thank my family for putting up with all of the inconveniences and humiliation that my column has brought them this past year and a half. My brother has many times threatened to write the Tribune an editorial exposing all of the "lies" I've written about him, and I thank him for never doing so. My mom has tirelessly served as my editor and has otherwise been an invaluable aid to me. Without her, my column would never have worked. My dad gave me inspiration when I just couldn't think of anything to write about, although the lawyer jokes were never his idea.
Finally, I want to extend my warmest welcome to the person who will take my place as a Wave columnist. I am sure you'll do a wonderful job, and I wish you the best luck in what I consider one of the best jobs a high-school kid can have.
To my readership, I thank you for reading and congratulate you if you didn't just fall for a prank, which I consider to be one of my best in a long time: this column. If, however, you really believed that I was going to give my column up after this week, then I guess the joke's on you, pal. April Fools!