Garrison Keillor came to Colorado Springs on Sunday, and I was ready to have my picture taken – if not his hugging me then my hugging him. I would follow his voice anywhere. Our tickets were good for a Meet and Greet prior to the show, and I was ready to make a fool of myself. My camera was charged. I was poised for the attack. But I was denied. Had security heard that there was an unhinged fan in the auditorium? Very possibly.
I think I’ve been listening to Prairie Home Companion on the radio for… easily 30 years. Has the show gotten old? That’s a matter of opinion. Some think that the show has grown stale. For me, the homey show’s predictability is part of its old-slipper-soft charm. The people who call fictional Lake Wobegon home… I know their quirks and love those Minnesota Lutherans like extended family. The show takes me back to simpler times… slower times… times when people had the time to sit on the front porch and visit with the neighbors walking by.
What an amazing thing that people, whose homes are crowded with electronic toys to include 52-inch TVs and cable, are still willing to pour a cup of coffee and sit in the living room for two hours on a Saturday night listening to the radio. It is a miracle – right up there with a two-headed calf and the parting of the Red Sea.
You can listen to audio highlights from the 10/29 show as well as other archived shows on your computer: http://prairiehome.publicradio.org. If you don’t want to listen to the entire show, scroll down and at the very least listen to Pueblo”s own Haunted Windchimes.
And while I’m at it, treat yourself to a daily dose of Garrison Keillor’s voice by subscribing to the Writer’s Almanac: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org. On reaching the site, click “newsletter” at the top of the homepage. Once they have your details, Garrison’s voice, reading a poem or two and sharing bits and bobs of literary history, will come to your inbox daily. What a great way to begin your day.
My inspiration comes from Writer’s Almanac. Looking at today’s Nov. 1 newsletter, I am struck by the daily quote, this by Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Isn’t that the truth! The trigger might be to write about the difficulty of finding time to write, the difficulty of accepting criticism/rejection, the difficulty of meeting deadlines, or the difficulty of staying true to your voice. (Speaking of deadlines, during the month of November, I am going to try to wordsmith a box full of essays, short stories and poems. Wish me luck. I will try to write no fewer than two hours a day for 30 days. I start today. Please email me – keep me on track and feeling guilty if I slip up.)
A second trigger, again courtesy of today’s Writer’s Almanac, is the poem “Reusing Words” by Hal Sirowitz. The first two and a half lines read: “Don’t think you know everything / Father said, just because you’re good / with words.” I love the line-break between “good” at the end of line two and the “with words” at the beginning of line three. In this case, the trigger would be a reflection on parental criticism at your house.
And then, because Writer’s Almanac is an almanac tied to the day’s date, today’s entry includes information on All Saint’s Day which Pope Gregory III changed in the mid 700s. The change of date was made to coincide with Samhain, a celtic pagan festival which celebrated the porous border between the living and the dead. Cool! And related, is a piece of my favorite Mexican festival, Dia de los Muertos. All good stuff for writing triggers. So… do you have any close connections with those who have passed to the other side? Write a short fiction piece in which your main character is having a conversation with someone – someone who, the reader is surprised to learn, is on the far side.