In Unexpected Places

I'm finding inspiration in unexpected places.

Starting with the headline above. I read it as: May is Wildflower Awareness Month. 

Well, yes, of course. After a wet winter, it's been a season of lupine, foxglove, and sweetpea, and with each spotting my heart lifts. But no . . it's wildfires, not widlflowers, that need our attention.

Is this metaphor? These days it seem we're racing to put out fire after fire (immigration, health care, walls, and wars). There's so much to resist my naps have grown in duration, so exhausted from the worry and weight of thinking.  

And so I unexpectedly found solace — and mirth — in the sports pages. No, really.

Do you read Jason Gay? I don't even like sports (at all, none of them) but I eagerly read Jason Gay's column in the Wall Street Journal.*  He's chatty and smart with loads of pop culture references. For example, in This Sports Column is Too Long, he writes:

Let’s be honest: You’re never going to make it to the end of this stupid column. You’re too rushed, too busy, too compressed for time. You have a million things to do, and a million more things competing for your attention. Who has time to read 800 or so words in a newspaper? Or eight words, for that matter? I’ve lost you already. I’m certain of it. At least my mom is still reading. Thanks, Mom!

Just when I think I can't get further afield, I stumble upon car reviews. Yes, you read that right. I couldn't care less about cars. When I drive, I have only three questions: Does it start? Does it run? Do I have to pump my own gas?  But when I read Dan Neil, who writes about cars with such a sharp fun tongue, I can't wait to turn the ignition. For example:

I worried that calling the Toyota Land Cruiser a “behemoth” might sound catty, so I looked it up. The word comes to us from the Hebrew for “hippopotamus,” and—in the actual presence of Toyota’s cultic, revered luxury SUV—I have to say, that’s pretty spot on. Both appear equally aerodynamic, for example. The proportions are similar, too, with massive bodies poised over itty-bitty feet. If anything, it’s the hippos that should take umbrage.


You may be asking, what do Jason, Dan and wildfires have to do with writing?


To be a writer you must first read. Far and wide. You must stretch yourself beyond the injustice of sports glory, beyond the dullness of automotive details. You must wander into fields unknown. And on your sidetrip, if you're lucky, you may find the real prize: wildflowers.


* Yes, I read The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian and The Washington Post and Reuters (though the website is akin to a utilitarian version of Google: all data, no decor). Because I'm a skimmer and frequently forget details, this much reading doesn't make me smart, just tired.