Tuesday, August 20, 2019


I am scooped more often than a quart of Ben and Jerry’s. And I hate it.

Every now and again, I come up with a marketable idea before everyone else on earth beats me to it. A couple of years ago, I wrote a humor piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer about breaking up with my Fitbit, and the editor bought it within 15 minutes. That, my friends, is not my norm. My norm is either a) coming up with an idea only to quickly discover the nearly identical thing published already (usually in some stellar publication like The New Yorker, which sends me into a deep funk because IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME) or b) staring, clueless, at the computer screen for hours while all around me other writers are typing away, bursting with the inspiration I obviously lack.

Where, I wonder, is the wellspring of wonderful story concepts that slakes the thirst of my fellow authors? I seek this magical fountain, but instead only find a dry and barren riverbed, with random vowels and consonants lying there, gasping for breath. I ponder my (few) areas of “expertise”: parenting, mental health, church work. There are websites that cater to all of these subjects, and use freelancers to boot. But when it comes time to pitch an essay, I most often come up empty. Why did So-and-So score big with her so-so story about her son’s first lost tooth? Among my five offspring, I dealt with 100 baby teeth lost over the years! And I named the Tooth Fairy Dentina! (clever, eh? Apparently not clever enough for The Christian Science Monitor!) How about the touching saga of Writer B’s struggle with depression and anxiety that went viral? Hey, buddy, I struggled too! I just didn’t write about it fast enough!!

Seems I am always behind the literary 8-ball. Nothing like discovering that it’s National Canned Food Month on the last day of said month (February, BTW), way too late to sell a funny article about the 50 cans of beets I’d stockpiled in advance of Y2K (we all hate canned beets; what was I thinking?) Sometimes I am scooped when a particularly timely topic appears in the news, and I miss the window of opportunity. There’s an annoyingly prolific woman who posts all the time in a writer’s Facebook group about her many “gets” for CNN, The Guardian, etc. She can muse about one episode of a hot new Netflix show and spin it into two or three sales. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of pop culture, to put it mildly, and any swell program I “discover” turns out to have aired back in 1994.

But I am determined to get a scoop one of these days! I have pen in hand and am ever-ready to scribble! There must be something or someone that hasn’t already been exhaustively covered, right?

For instance, who is the President these days? Anybody know?

That might be an idea for a story.

I know who this is!

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