Monday, June 8, 2015

A Blast from the Past

It's been a while since I posted on this site. Okay... it's been a YEAR since I posted. I've been busy. I've been writing. Just recently I ran across a set of column articles I wrote (and never published) entitled "The Square Peg" while I was living in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana in the early 1980s. Somehow, a lot of them still seem relevant today, so I thought I'd share them with you. I'll try to post a couple each week. Here's the first one. I'm sure some of you out there can relate.

Copyright S. Bradley Stoner

My brother came over last week. My brother is a lawyer. He makes good money. His wife is a lawyer. She makes good money. Together, they make REALLY good money. I am a writer. I don't make really good money. A lot of the time, I don't even make good money. That's how it is sometimes. I don't mind it. They do. "Dale" (not his real name) keeps asking me when I'm going to get a REAL job. My sister-in-law hopes I find my niche.

"What have you been doing?" was Dale's first question.

"Working," I responded. I told him how I had put in a minimum of twelve hours a day for the past month. Sometimes fifteen or sixteen. And that's on top of trying to keep up the thirty acres, feeding the animals, and building an office to work in. He folded his arms, frowned, and harrumphed. I didn't take it personally. Lawyers do that a lot.

"Where are you working?"

"Right here. I'm writing"

He scowled. Lawyers do that a lot too. "Are you making any money?" I was afraid to answer. He took that to mean exactly what it did. "What you need, he said, "is a real job."

He isn't the only one. I get strange looks from almost everybody when I tell them what I do. Some think I'm crazy. Some don't believe it. Some just look at me for a moment then break into paroxysms of laughter. I couldn't figure out why one particular neighbor of mine kept looking at me like I'd lost my mind. I stopped by his house yesterday and understood immediately. He had one book in his house. It's on the coffee table and it has no more than two hundred words of text. Nice pictures, though.

He has a real job. He makes good money too. He keeps offering to "have a word with the foreman" so I also can have an honest to God REAL job. I said, "No thanks." It's not that I'd mind the money, but every time I see him, I get the willies. He works at the sawmill. He credits the mill with all he has today. He has one eye that wanders off on its own ever since he got hit in the noggin with a block and tackle. He's missing three fingers and his left big toe because he "got a little friendly with the trim saw." He has a back that won't bend because it got smacked by a runaway log. He has insurance. It's a good thing.

I got a call from a friend in Chicago just the other day. After all the preliminaries, he asked me what I was doing. I thought fast. I thought about telling the whole, naked truth and decided I'd better not. I didn't need any more advice. I told him I was keeping busy working my ranch. What with the animals and all, it kept me pretty doggone busy. I was trying my best to sound like a REAL rancher.

"I thought you were writing," he said.

I broke down and confessed. I told it all. I told about the novel. I told about the features. I told about the fillers. When I paused for breath, he said, "When are you going to get a REAL job?"


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