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How the writer's brain is like a small, furry creature

In the past week, many alert Metro readers have messaged me to ask whythe column promo that appeared Friday, April 3 had nothing to do withwhat the column that ran Monday, April 6, was actually about.

In the past week, many alert Metro readers have messaged me to ask why the column promo that appeared Friday, April 3 had nothing to do with what the column that ran Monday, April 6, was actually about.

So, I thought I’d offer some insight into how a column is created.

Thursday morning, April 2, I e-mailed my Metro editor, informing him that Monday’s column would be about squirrels. Squirrels and spring flowers.

And why the fact that I have one means I never, ever have any of the other.

“Mike,” I said, “I’m writing about squirrels. Put the word out. People need to know. Squirrels it is. You heard it here first.”

I let Mike know this in case he wanted to run a promo in Friday’s paper saying something like, “This Monday: Bloom Raiders — Hines vs. Squirrels in the Battle of the Bulbs.”

Which pretty much describes the scene of floral carnage in my backyard each April. Sometime later the same day I sent in the column. It was about buying a used car.

How could this happen? It’s not because the completely evil behaviour of squirrels hopped up on exotic Dutch tulip bulbs isn’t of concern. I once wrote an entire article about how I’d like to blow up every squirrel in the world.

I got a lot of reader mail about that one. Mostly from gardeners wanting to know if blowing up squirrels is legal.

So, a piece titled, “Squirrels: What are they good for?” seemed like a fine idea. I even contacted a squirrel expert to pose this question. Our conversation went like this. Seriously.

Me: So, squirrels. More useless than beer glasses and nipple rings, right?

SE: Well … tourists like them.

Me: Excuse me?

SE: People visiting from cities that don’t have squirrels find it interesting to see wild animals in the city.

Me: Do they also come from places that don’t have teenagers?

Then it hit me. My city could become the international centre for Squirrel Tourism. Way better than Ecotourism. They frown on you stashing a koala in your bag whereas our clients would be encouraged to take home as many furry souvenirs as they can carry.

So, you see, I had every intention of writing about squirrels. But what happened is … I didn’t.

The fact is the creative writing process is an unmanageable, untamable thing. Much like creative writers. Or, I guess, squirrels.

Anne Hines is an author and humour writer. She has written three novels and one
collection of nonfiction humour.

 
 
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