MILLIANS: Writing for pleasure | Opinion
I was on the phone with Jim Fain, the Fickling Lake Country realtor, the other day.
I didn’t know Jim, but I had seen his name on signs and billboards all over town.
I identified myself and without wasting time, Jim said:
“If you’re looking for the queen of the dairy queen, you’ve got the wrong number.”
Of course, Jim was talking about a column I did about Judy Cheely (and her late husband Carl) and the years she ruled Milledgeville’s oldest fast food establishment.
Judy was even the subject of a recent letter to the editor of the Union-Recorder from a retired minister from Tennessee.
“She was the idol of all the boys at school, sporting beautiful naturally blonde hair and a friendly demeanor,” he wrote. “She was well suited to restaurant work. She was just being herself as she served customers throughout her 43 years at the DQ, south of town.
I liked it. Writers like me are happy when people read, remember and comment on things we’ve written.
Writers, of course, come from all beliefs. I appreciated that many of you took about 5 minutes each week to read my thoughts.
I am frequently asked questions, mainly these:
1. Where do you write?
2. Where do you get your ideas?
3. How do you remember all this?
4. What do you write about when you can’t think of anything else?
Let’s take them, in order:
1. I write at my desk in the back of the kitchen. That’s both a plus — it’s near the fridge when I’m ready for a snack — and a minus — it’s near the fridge when I’m ready for a snack.
I’m not crazy like Victor Hugo, who wrote “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” (not only Notre-Dame). I read that Hugo gave all his clothes to his valet every morning and wrote naked so he couldn’t go anywhere until he wrote down the quota for the day.
Forget that. I don’t have a valet and that would be an ugly scene.
Anyway, I don’t have a fashion brand style either. You know, like Ernest Hemingway always wore that fisherman’s cap. Or Tom Wolfe and Mark Twain still wearing those white suits. Twain said that wearing light-colored clothes “is more pleasing to the eye and enlivens the spirit”.
Also, Twain said when he was 71 (I’m almost there) that he was too old to care what his detractors said.
2. My ideas come from everywhere. As I wrote last week in my column on “Bubbas, including me,” this idea really came from a bathroom wall.
An idea for a column can come from conversations with other people, from what I hear on the radio, from what I see on television or from what I read in newspapers, books or on the Internet.
In over two years, I’ve written about bridge, bakeries, boy scouts, and the Baldwin High School Class of 1970 (several times).
I’ve written about a vacuum cleaner salesman (Bob Dubay), a retired tax preparer (David Pettigrew), a doctor (Wes King), and a bear (Smokey).
Retirement (several times), centenarians, my late father, my wife and my granddaughters have also been some of my topics.
I’ve also written about winter, summer, COVID, Christmas, and our cat Larry (twice).
Not to mention Herschel Walker, Vince Dooley, Pepper Rodgers, Steve Spurrier and the Georgia National Championship.
3. I remember things by writing them down. I have stacks and stacks of filled yellow notepads.
Otherwise I would forget everything other than what and where I ate.
4. When I’m out of ideas, what do I write about? Food.
I wrote about barbecue, fried chicken and shrimp (fried, boiled or scampi).
Other topics have included tomatoes, mayonnaise, chili dogs and onion rings.
Don’t forget the dessert: peach pie, pecan pie and fried apple pies.
Not to mention Thanksgiving Day menus and, of course, most cafeterias (especially S&S) or meat and two (or three) veggie restaurants.
When I retired after almost 45 years in the press world, my wife asked me what I planned to do.
“Read and write,” I said.
When berating sportswriters, former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight used to say that most people learn to read and write in third grade and then move on. .
I never did, and I’m too old to change now.
Rick Millians, a 1970 graduate of Baldwin High, worked for newspapers in Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]