We’ve reached autumn! I know spring is considered the season of new beginnings, but for me, fall has always felt that way. Perhaps it’s from years of back-to-school activity.
These days school is not a part of my life, but I still love autumn and I’m always learning new things. Especially for various themes and topics within my Other Worldly novel series.
We’re finally starting to get cooler temps here in the Vegas Valley—at least in early morning—and it’s invigorating. Plus, new opportunities for new beginnings are drifting in like falling leaves.
There’s a monthly publication here in Vegas for seniors (that’s me, in the autumn of life) that uses volunteer columnists. Another potential writing gig, with challenges not unlike writing school essays, perhaps.
I was once a local newspaper columnist, and though it wasn’t volunteer work, the pay was miniscule. Monetary compensation is not necessarily a deal breaker if I can have some fun with it. But therein lies a possibly insurmountable boulder rising through thick, daunting clouds.
First, some technical details. These column lengths are no more than 350 words—less than the recommended 500 minimum for blog posts, and far less than my average newspaper column of 800 to 1,000 words. But the word count doesn’t worry me, as I see it as a chance to hone editing skills.
What’s challenging is there are already more than thirty columnists for this magazine, and it’s taboo to write about anything carved out as someone else’s theme. As in, no stepping on toes.
Worse, a columnist’s focus cannot involve politics. And that kind of stomps on my toes and tosses my writing style straight over a cliff.
The problem is, too many folks these days label anything they don’t like or don’t want to acknowledge as mere “politics.” Racism being the one that springs, or falls, to mind, along with anything associated with civil and human rights.
I write about current sociopolitical issues in my novels that involve aliens and humans interacting. And I most certainly cover hot-button issues in this Luna Moth Woman blog, so I would need to go in a totally different direction, as in uphill on a steep incline, for this column-writing opportunity. And that direction can’t intersect anyone else’s.
Hey, you, get off of my cloud! comes to mind.
I perused current columns, with titles that give some clue as to theme. My weekly newspaper column was called On My Mind, so I regularly wrote about sociopolitical issues, and often at my own peril given I was living in rural central Nevada at the time. But I also covered topics of local interest and the occasional feature about cool stuff like Valley of Fire State Park.
That park is also prominent in my novels as the headquarters for an alien species. So, I suppose I could cover local Vegas stuff, but of course that’s already being done. As is a “soapbox” styled column.
My novels are comedic. Could I write a humorous column? Probably not without infusing snarky political digs. And several others already appear to being doing “funny.”
All of the columns are senior-related, of course, including inevitable health issues. Not my forte. Though I could write about the health benefits of wine…
There are entertainment columns about Hollywood experiences (don’t have that) or local Vegas clubs (don’t do much of that); there are self-help columns (I snark it up about how-to tomes in my first novel, Alienable Rights); there’s a legal advice column (I used to be a lawyer and now just say no, though my novels have tidbits about the Constitution and legal ethics); there’s a fashion column (my mom is far more suited to that than me); a psychic column (I’m not, but I do cover astrology and clairvoyance in my novels); and travel columns.
I travel into space starting in book three, Aliens Abound—probably not something I can do a column about. My protagonist Rowan Layne starts a blog called Moonliving after visiting Earth’s moon, but I doubt this magazine is looking for pure fantasy. Even though avoiding all politics in modern-day life is nothing but a folly of a fantasy.
My dog and cat are featured critters (as themselves) in my novels, could I write a column about them? Pet themes are already taken. I worked for the military but I’m not a veteran, so that’s a no-go and already covered.
Other things I’m not qualified to write about, and would never want to, include medicine, sports—especially basketball and golf—gardening, cooking (yikes) insurance (double yikes), or grandkids.
And I am definitely not a candidate for writing about the “good old days” of times gone by. Like, take the 1950s before I was born. Please. I’m female in the US. What good old days? Proving how hard it is not to write about controversial “political” issues, which feminism really shouldn’t be.
I suppose I could write about never having had to grow up because I didn’t have kids. Or I could wax poetic about aliens, but for sure someone will decide that’s political, like all the HUMANS FIRST! cult members in my novels.
For my Other Worldly series, I’ve researched and written about DNA, recessive genes, clouds, mountains, geology, geomorphology, gemology, physics, electromagnetism, piezoelectricity, petroglyphs, our solar system and its moons, fairies, unicorns, hummingbirds, Luna moths, the Loch Ness monster and others of her ilk in Scotland and the US, and Stonehenge. I’ve covered the spring equinox and summer solstices, so I need to get the autumn equinox in there.
I could write a column about the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, but likely not without being accused of playing politics by those who are only interested in the Second Amendment—and the twisted NRA version at that.
I’m a paper crafter and rubber stamp collector, but it’s not something I feel qualified, or motivated, to write about. I don’t keep up with latest trends and tend not to cut in straight lines and am not into anything that has too many complicated steps (why I also don’t enjoy culinary pursuits other than eating and fine wine dining).
This week marks three years living in North Las Vegas, though only seven months in my current location, an over-55 community. In Sept 2019 I won first place for my local column from the Nevada Press Association. That didn’t happen by writing fluff that shied away from politics or cold hard facts.
In late April I surpassed ten years in Nevada. I could write about the Silver State, beginning with advising newcomers how to actually pronounce Nevada. Would that be a self-help column, though? Because too many who moved here from places like California seem to know precious little about the Battle Born state. Nor do they seem to want to.
But what would I call my column? Everything That Wasn’t Already Being Blathered About? Except that title is too long. Kind of like this blog post. Talk about blathering. My apologies. I’m getting on in years.
Shall I perchance try to fall into this column-writing gig? Outlook is cloudy when it comes to not being paid to not write about politics.
But hey, there’s always the weather. Aren’t we old folks obsessed with that? Maybe my column could be called, My Leaves Aren’t Dead Yet.