A few of the grands wanted to know if they could help write a column. I said, “It’s a lot harder than it looks.” I’m not positive, but I think two of them exchanged smirks.
They pointed out that they know their letters and can write upper case and lower. “You are qualified!” I said.
“What should we write about?”
“Well, you need a story to tell.”
“Sometimes your stories are about us. We could write a story about you. How about we tell how you killed the bee?”
“Wasp,” I said. “Accuracy is important.”
“Yeah, the bee.”
“Maybe,” I said, “but you can’t just say Grandma killed a bee. You have to set it up, like a real story.”
“I know,” one said. “Write this: ‘Once on a hot sunny day.’”
“You’ve got the reader hooked,” I said. “Then what?”
“Once on a hot sunny day I told Grandma I saw a very big bug flying in the birdhouse that’s on the playhouse.”
“Good, but you need to be descriptive. Paint a picture with words.”
“We get to paint? Yeah! Let’s paint!”
“No, you’re writing a column. It’s easy to get distracted writing, but a good columnist hammers out 25 words before getting distracted with something like painting or going to the ‘fridge.’”
“OK. It was a very big bug and it had polka dots and it was flying and I said Grandma do you know much about bugs and then you said I know some and I said good because I don’t know much.”
“That’s a run-on sentence.”
“I wasn’t running.”
“Never mind. You can edit later. Or you can choose not to edit and give the editors something to do. Your story needs action.”
“Grandma looked in the birdhouse and it wasn’t a big bug, it was a bee. A bee with polka dots. Then grandma took the birdhouse off the playhouse and put it in the yard. Then I said Grandma I still hear buzzing in the playhouse so you came and looked and there were more big bees building a nest right on the playhouse. Did you type that the bees had polka dots?”
“That’s not so much true,” one says to the other.
“It is so. Didn’t it have polka dots, Grandma?”
“They weren’t exactly polka dots — but you could use your artistic license.”
“Yeah, I want to use my lyin’-sense.”
“A lot of writers do,” I said. “Now end your story.”
“Grandpa came with a can to spray the bees and Grandma said no that will make them mad and Grandpa sprayed them anyway and Grandma and Grandpa were yelling and bees were flying and Grandma killed some of them with a broom.”
“We weren’t yelling.”
“You were yelling. That is true.”
“You can’t end a column with anger. That’s what the rest of the news does. Leave the reader with a smile,” I said.
“OK, write this: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Boo. Boo who? You don’t have to cry, it’s just a joke!”
“Good job, kids. Now let’s get a snack and go paint.”