Wednesday, August 03, 2011

First draft, second draft, third draft - and voila - we have a column

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - My third column for the Finger Lakes Times is off to the editor (12 hours early, thank you very much) but not without some writing angst.

Normally a facil writer, this column was torture for me to put together, torture to rewrite and torture to research.


The column starts with the backdrop of the U.S. economy (ah, examining that is torture enough...), but moves into a positive mode by suggesting that the Finger Lakes economy should lean heavily on promoting the wine industry (which includes agriculture, a big deal here). Then I get into politics - selling wine in grocery stores - verboten by state law right now.

The lessons from writing this column were many: research more (and earlier), let my column voice loose (been writing news all summer) and don't be afraid of draft, redraft and draft again.

It's a good lesson to take into the classroom this fall when I will be asking column writers to do exactly the same. Most college students want to write a quick first draft and turn it is as gold. It usually does not resemble any precious metal.

But moving into column four I have an idea to write about the activist culture here - or perhaps the relentless attacks on school teachers that I seem to read daily.

I am inspired by two videos I saw today of actor Matt Damon. He was raised by a schoolteacher, as was I, and his comments resonated with me.

The column ideas come so easily. But the writing? Jaysus.

Here's two Matt Damon videos, both provocative: