Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On writing a column


Recently, Ned Cantwell, a friend who also is in this business,asked me to answer some questions from my 26 years in the business about column writing. Here's some answers.

By far my favorite columns were the ones written while aboard a Princess cruise ship in 2005. The cruise celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. It docked in Pearl Harbor and finished in Nagasaki. The route traced the progress of the war in the Pacific.
I was mainly interested in the locations where New Mexicans had fought. After visiting Midway Island and its "Gooney Bird" Albatrosses, we headed south, thousands of miles to Guadalcanal Island, then worked our way up through New Guinea, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The natives always seemed to be ready for us with local bands and dancers -- and effusive praise for liberating them from their captors. The approximately 500 cruise passengers included veterans who had fought on some of the islands and many children who wanted to see where dad died.
My interest mainly came from having grown up in Deming and Silver City knowing many of the veterans or having friends who had lost fathers in the Pacific, some of whom did not return.
I combined that information with material from books by Dorothy Cave Aldrich, of Roswell, about the tribulations faced by the 1800 New Mexico national guardsmen sent to defend the Philippines.
Over the next few months, I received more mail and email responses than than on any other subject. I promised to compile all the columns into a book, which I still haven't done. Fortunately some of the returning veterans told me they made booklets of their own from the newspaper columns.
Tomorrow – most frustrating columns


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