Most of the web sites I surf include a list of FAQ’s. (Frequently Asked Questions.) This week I decided that my web site was in desperate need of updating, so I wrote my own FAQ list.
Q. Is it easy to think up new ideas for a column every week?
A. No, it’s not. So sometimes I end up writing columns about innocuous things like, say, “Questions people ask.”
Q. How can I become a newspaper columnist?
A. Usually that questions means — “How can I find the fame and the big bucks? I’d answer that question, but so far I’ve only found the fame part. OK, maybe I’m still looking for fame too. At any rate, this is a spiritual column and my readers shouldn’t be seeking such earthly rewards.
Q. OK, then, so how did you become a newspaper columnist?
A. I met an editor named Tom Clifford on a Boy Scout camping trip. I asked him for a job and he said, “Uh, no.” But, when I let him know that I knew a guy who could actually get an editor into heaven’s back gate, he changed his mind and asked me for a column proposal.
Q. Oh, so you have to know someone to get a job writing?
A. Yeah, it’s hard to write about people if you don’t actually know some people.
Q. What do you write about?
A. This is the question asked by people like my mother-in-law who aren’t reading my column and don’t really know how famous I am. However, when I start hinting that my next column might be about them, they start reading the column in hopes of seeing their name.
Q. So the real secret to becoming a big-time columnist is to trick people into reading your column? A. Yes. Uh, I mean, “no.” Can you repeat the question?
Q. How much do you get paid?
A. I can’t answer that questions because the answer would have a negative impact on our national economy. Answering that question would cause thousands of journalism students to drop out of college and flood the fast food job market.
Q. Why do you always write stories that make people cry?
A. I don’t always write sad columns. This column isn’t sad. If it were, I’d have answered the previous question.
Q. How far in advance do you write your columns?
A. My editors would probably tell you – “About three hours past his deadline.” But truthfully, I write them as quickly as they occur to me – which, OK, is about three hours before deadline.
Q. How long does it take you to write your columns?
A. I usually answer that with a question – Which time? Are you asking how long it took to write the first draft? Or are you asking me how long it took to do the twelve rewrites?
Q. How much of your stories are true?
A. The factual ones are always true, but truthfully, there’s not much truth in this particular column.
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. That’s a hard one to answer. If I tell the truth – almost three years – some fellow writers become a bit envious. And realizing that envy is a spiritual problem, I always enjoy telling them the truth.
Q. Have you ever thought about quitting your job to write full-time?
A. No mom, I haven’t. Besides who’d read a minister who stays home all day hugging his laptop?
Q. Finally, I get emails asking, “What kind of minister are you?”
A. Well, that answer sometimes depends on the day you’re asking. Sometimes, I’m a sad one, a happy one, a thoughtful one, a caring one, and today – I’m kind of a goofy one. But since you’ve tolerated this column to the end, you must be a friend and I know you wouldn’t ask such a question.