You wouldn’t have liked the column that almost ran today. It was kind of a mess. It was 900 words of alcohol, guns, Kavanaugh and jokes about throwing axes. Wait, that sounds kinda neat actually. Trust me, it was bad.
Thing is, I really tried to make it work. I had a great intro. Two-hundred words of pure master class stuff. But beginnings are always easy.
It was at that point I wondered where the heck I was taking this. I have a million ideas, but I can’t always put them together for print. Was this one worth committing to? It wasn’t really. I knew better. I should have called it quits then and there. I was grasping at straws, light on substance and heavy on jokes over the next couple hundred words. Never a good sign.
But I said no, I’m already committed. I didn’t like it right then, but you don’t get halfway into a column and quit. I took a break to clear my mind and refresh my argument a little, you know?
I came back, sat down at my computer motivated to knock this thing out of the park. I psyched myself up with some tunes and started punching keys. Not punching keys, more like … drumming my fingers on my keyboard. I was stumped.
I sought outside help. Google is man’s best friend. I wasn’t there to plagiarize mind, just searching for a little inspiration. Sometimes asking questions can lead you down the right road.
I found nothing.
Once I reached this roadblock, I knew it was over. My column had evolved into something I had no interest in. I barely even agreed with my own argument anymore and I was severely derailed from my main point by about 700 words in.
I know. I should have stopped, but I wanted to see it through to the end. I was so close, and not everything I write is worthy of an award. Besides, at this point I had sunk well over an hour. Starting over was becoming incredibly daunting. What would I even write about now that my mind was so focused on this?
So I finished it. It took another grueling half hour, and I’m pretty sure I tailed off into conspiracy theory territory at the end, but I was done. Boom, that’s this week’s small victory. Here’s my email address with a joke tied in so you think I’m funny.
That column left me. It was over. I only had to look back on it for a review.
I read it with that look you get when you first smell someone’s flatulence. What was I thinking? There’s no way I can submit this for publication. Best case scenario, my boss sends it back for the first time in my career and tells me they won’t be running it this week. Worst case, it actually runs and for the first time, I get justified hate mail.
I knew along the way that I should have been the one to end it. Before that column was finished leaving my pen, I should have kicked it to the curb. There were red flags all over the place and I had several opportunities to just begin again. I’m a stubborn man, once I commit I rarely back out. It bit me hard this time.
I didn’t have a choice in the end. I deleted it. Save file and all. It doesn’t exist except in my head, where it’s really just a bad memory. Had I started over earlier, when I should have, when it was my choice, maybe I would have felt better about having to.
There I sat, staring at a blank page with a looming deadline. At first, I was sad. I put a lot of myself into that writing. For what? An experience?
Looking back, though, it really was for the best. I learned a valuable lesson, and right now you’re getting a much better writing that I feel better about.
Every page in this book of life we’ve stumbled onto starts out blank. Maybe a new beginning in the middle of one chapter in yours doesn’t make sense. Who cares? It’s your story, it only has to make sense to you.
If you’re getting red flags, or if it just doesn’t feel right, never be afraid to start over. Even if it hurts, it might just be for the best, and that’s this week’s small victory.
Besides, was this whole story really about a column?
(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Email email@example.com for his trick on increasing monthly income (using just a gun.))