Copyright 2004 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner                                             April 15, 2004

                     Is There Anybody Out There?

   Greetings, Fearless Readers!  The "regulars" among you might have
noticed that I usually end my columns with the same words as the title, a
habit or device which could be considered either somewhat clever or entirely
too cutesy-poo and contrived, depending on one's taste in writing styles or
mood at the moment.  I myself think it's a trifle cheesy, but I do it anyway,
most times, because concluding statements are difficult to compose, and I'm
too lazy to struggle for something better.
    Despite my mixed feelings about that title/ending congruence, I get
testy when people mess with my words.  In my last column, someone at the
NB News changed the title from "Selling the Schools" to "Selling the school
items," which is a much less eye- or interest-catching title, and which didn't
match my concluding words.  Maybe whoever did it thought that their new
title was more in line with the content of the column, but Cranks are not
news stories, they are opinion pieces; you're reading my personal version or
"take" on the things or events I write about, and you should be allowed to
make up your own minds about whether I did a good job.
    After grumbling a bit about the altered title, I got to wondering about
why I bother writing a column at all.  Aside from a free subscription to the
NB News, I don't get paid to do this.  Each column takes several hours to
write; it isn't easy to come up with a topic that I feel readers might find
amusing, irritating, insightful or informative, and then to beat that idea into
consecutive coherent paragraphs.  Writing is hard, and I don't particularly
enjoy doing it, except for the fact that it allows me to spout off about my
peeves and enthusiasms, and hubby encourages me to continue.
    The entire process might be easier if I were a better writer, but this is
likely as good as it gets. I've been Cranking away for over five years now,
and I doubt that I'm any better at it than when I started.  I feel that my
earliest columns were some of my best, actually, because back then I had
years' worth of opinions stored up, and didn't need to rack my brains for
material.  But, as the saying goes, opinions are like posterior orifices,
everyone's got one.  Why bother writing them down?  Why would anyone
care what I think, anyway?
    Aye, there's the rub.  Who is actually taking the time to read this
drivel?  That "Fearless Readers" salutation was tongue-in-cheek; aside from
my in-laws and a few folks who took the trouble to tell me in person that
they enjoy my column, over the past five years I've received one letter and
less than ten e-mails, total, in response to my writing.  One of the e-mails
was from an in-law, and two of them were from people who'd stumbled
across an old column among the ones posted at,
because they came to my other, non-crank inbox.  If anyone has ever written
to the News about one of my pieces, I never heard about it.
    What gives?  Am I ranting in a vacuum?  I can easily understand that
folks who agree with me might not be so inspired as to send a love letter, but
it's embarassing to think that, try as I might, nothing I write ticks anyone off
to the point of zapping me with some hate mail.  I can't help but wonder (see
title, above), is there anybody out there?

love letters or hate mail?