Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Elise Patkotak: On Writing a Column

Elise Patkotak
One of the questions I face most often as a regular newspaper columnist is why. Why would anyone put themselves and their personal opinions out for everyone to read and criticize on a regular basis, especially considering how poor the pay.

There is no easy answer to that question short of admitting to a bit of insanity in the family genes or a total inability to know where the line is between personal and private in my own life. In truth, the reason is that I already take enough pills to stay alive on a daily basis. If I didn’t write my weekly column and vent my frequent anger and frustration with our elected officials and their minions, I would have to take many more. I’d have to take heart pills, more blood pressure pills, headache pills, indigestion pills and, at the end of the day, sleeping pills to turn off my mind enough to relax and unclench my fists. So you can see where just writing my frustrations out on a regular basis is a much healthier approach.

Of course, if you choose this route, you also choose to make very public your views on all kinds of matters and, in doing so, incur the wrath of many who do not share your views. In this wonderful new age of electronic communications, this means that your e-mail box can rapidly fill up with messages that start with the words, “Are you completely insane or just stupid?” And in actual fact, that is probably some of the more polite opening words I’ve ever read. I’ve been accused of being so stupid I’d make a turkey in the rain look smart (think about it, it will come to you). Based on names I’ve been called, some apparently think my mother was not married when she born me. And if many of my e-mails are true, I am definitely not going to heaven… at least, not to the heaven some Christians plan to inhabit.

I do occasionally get e-mails from people thanking me for saying what they are thinking. They are usually thanking me because this saves them from having to say it out loud and encountering opposition. I am happy to do this for them. I assume when I need them, they will be there to protect me. Right?  Guys? Gals? Right?

Actually, the best e-mail I’ve ever received about one of my columns can easily be placed in either the love or hate side of the equation. It simply said, “Your column today made sense. Sometimes you do.”

Brevity truly is the soul of wit.

Author Elise Patkotak will be speaking on "The World of Self-Publishing and Why" on

Thursday, Apr. 24, 7pm, Great Harvest Bread Co. as part of the 49 Writers Reading and Craft Talk series.

1 comment:

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Thanks, Elise. I appreciate your stickling your neck out and saying what many of us are thinking!