Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Writer's block isn't permissable

I've never suffered from what some people call writer's block. That may be because for much of my life I wasn't allowed that luxury. You couldn't walk into the newsroom a few minutes before seven, stop at the city editor's desk and say, "I just don't feel like writing today." Actually you could, but your next stop would be the unemployment office.
One of the joys of working for a newspaper with a rival paper in town was doing the morning rewrites. Finding half a dozen or more obituaries among the clippings waiting to be rewritten was especially disheartening. That was the time when you would raise a hand and yell, "Boy!" When a copy boy hurried over you'd say, "Coffee. Hot, black and fast."
Most of those obits would begin: "John Doe, 59, died Monday at Merciless Hospital."
The easy rewrite would be: "Calling hours for John Doe, 59, will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Plantum Mortuary."
But you wanted to be more creative than that. Surely John Doe did something a bit different in his life and you'd search that original obit to find it. Amazingly, many people had not done one thing of interest to others. This was particularly true of women. Although it was tempting, you couldn't write, "Jane Doe's major accomplishment in life was lying on her back in bed and as a result producing six children." As their obit is the only time many people have their name in the paper, that would be unkind. So would the city editor's reaction.
When not one noteworthy thing could be found there was little choice other than falling back on, "Calling hours for . . ."
The worst obits, the kind that make you want to gag, are dictated by family members and appear in papers that charge for running them. Therefore they will print anything. "The angels descended from heaven Monday to take Jane Doe home to . . ." Pass the barf bag please.
The most interesting obit I ever read was written by the entertainment writer at a Cleveland paper when the city had three competing newspapers. It began: "John Doe, well-known local hoodlum, did his family, friends and the city a favor Tuesday night by being shot dead on an east side street."
So rewriting those morning obituaries didn't allow for writer's block. It taught me that the best cure for not feeling like writing is to sit down and write something.


Blogger STAG said...

So, did Ike knock the trees down in your neighbourhood too?

10:56 AM  

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