Saturday Single No. 744

Sometimes the blank white space on my screen mocks me.

The cursor blinks impatiently, urging me to get on with things. And there’s nothing there.

This used to happen occasionally during my newspapering days, especially on Wednesday mornings, deadline time at both the Monticello Times, where I began my career in weekly journalism, and the Eden Prairie News, the last community weekly of my career. Quite often at both papers, the final thing I’d write for the weekly edition was my column, Musings.

I’d sit at my desk, pondering the blinking cursor – or, in the earliest days at Monticello, the blank sheet of paper in the typewriter – going over in my head the events of the last seven days to see if any of them sparked an idea. I’d page through the morning’s newspaper quickly, looking for news of an event somewhere, anywhere, that might bring inspiration.

If those brought no deadline joy, I might begin a tentative sentence, maybe: “I wonder if . . .”

Sometimes that worked. I’d recall something I’d thought about in recent days, and maybe finish the sentence with the words “. . . if the folks who run the Monticello Country Club know what a tidy little gem they have tucked next to Interstate 94.”

And I’d be off and writing, telling folks about last week’s early Thursday morning round on the nine-hole course, perhaps writing about the day when I made a winding 65-foot putt on a tricky three-level green, with the ball leaving its track in the heavy morning dew so clearly that another early morning golfer, following about two holes behind, congratulated me on the putt when our paths crossed in the parking lot after our rounds.

Or, if it were before December 1980, I might finish my starter sentence with “. . . the Beatles will ever record together again, and if they do, will the finished product come close to the quality of the stuff already released?”

And I’d be off on that, writing about their recent solo releases, fitting together bits and pieces I’d read about those albums and about the activities of the four men, perhaps sliding in commentary about the most recent of the compilations released, maybe Rarities, and wandering my way from there until I had a coherent column.

Or else, I might end my wondering question with “. . . the Minnesota Vikings will ever win the Super Bowl?”

That one would end quickly with “Probably not in my lifetime.” And that’s not enough for a column, except as a gag.

One thing I wasn’t ever allowed to do, though, at either of the two papers mentioned above – or at any of the five or six other newspapers for which I wrote over the years – was give up. I could not go tell the editor on a Wednesday morning, “I’m sorry. The well is dry, and it doesn’t seem as if it’s going to rain today.”

I can do that here, if I need to. My only responsibility here is to my self-esteem, and I can deal with the occasional dry spell, as long as it’s just a spell and it doesn’t turn into a drought. And writing without a destination in mind can often be a rainmaker. bringing one to just the right place, a place where the rain comes without warning and the well is filled just enough to accomplish the day’s chores.

So here is a very aptly titled tune: Wynonna Carr’s “’Til The Well Runs Dry,” recorded for the Specialty label in Los Angeles in November of 1956. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

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