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Great writing needs to have proper space. Mine, too

Due to an advertising project in this week's issue, I have less space than usual to spread my literary manure. This is akin, I profess, to Tolstoy being given just 1,150 pages to pen War and Peace (he actually filled 1,225) or Moses being allowed just one stone tablet on which to fit all 10 Commandments. Personally, I think he could have just skipped the one about coveting thy neighbor's stuff anyway, but that's just me.

People are creatures of habit, as evidenced by how most of us follow the same routine nearly every day, from hthe way we climb out of bed in the morning to when we retire at night. My work routine is very precise, as you might imagine, and includes the final task each week of setting down to compose about 1,000 words, give or take 1 percent, for this space. I've been doing it that way for some 18 years now, and to change the course after so long would be similar to my cat not licking his private parts on my couch every evening at roughly 9:20 p.m. Ya gotta admit, he is consistent, but then, I guess if I had that kind of flexibility, I'd wanna use it every day, too.

Now you might think writing this column would be similar to picking out a load of random words, dumping them in a blender, and then pouring the resulting sludge on the page, but I suggest to you that it's a much more complex, fine-tuned process than that. No, good readers, each of the nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions you see here each week is carefully considered and weighed, than arranged and rearranged in puzzle-like fashion until each sentence is so finely structured and nuanced that you probably set down your paper and say to your wife, 'Holy cow, Carol, how can this newspaper only cost $1.25?' (Hint: It's 'cuz I don't get paid by the word.) I'm somewhat off balance here this week, given that I have a few hundred words fewer than normal with which to craft a catchy introduction, flesh out an articulate and meaningful essay, and then close with a zinger-ending that makes you ponder, muse, marvel, and maybe even think, 'Well, I never considered the world from that perspective before.' Either that, or you plunk the paper down on the coffee table when you're done and say, 'OK, Carol, you can line the bird cage now,'' and you know what, it really doesn't matter to me. Like a factory worker who has to soder 300 widgets to 300 doodads every shift, all I have to do is fill this space, and then I can go home and pour some stale Cheerios for dinner. It's just impossible to keep 'em fresh in this humidity. Tupperware? Oh, yeah, right, like I can find the lids to any of those.

Condensing a fine work of literature -- or what I do here -- is not necessarily a simple task. Think of it as building something, say, a car, but suddenly being asked to do it with fewer parts than you should have. So you're on the assembly line, but you don't have a gas tank, or a glove compartment, or any of the pistons, yet you're asked to finish the process with a complete mechanical device that will function as it should. Well, yeah, you could just send it on through and call it a Chevy, but you're missing the point.

See, the written creations I produce here each week need weight, they need gravitas, they need a good writing coach to come along and say, 'Good gravy, Lesar, I've seen better grammar scratched with a switchblade into the paint of a men's restroom wall.' Like a master confectioner, I can't make fine chocolate without organic Colombian cocoa, nor as a high-end restaurant pastry chef could I make flaky yet moist blueberry scones without, well, whatever is in scones. Hog lard, maybe? I dunno. The point is, I can't be crippled with inadequate resources and still be expected to churn out the lofty quality cerebral expressions you've come to expect. Oh, well, that's helpful. Why didn't you say you only read this because you have time to kill waiting for your laxative to take charge? That takes the pressure off. Well, off me anyway, you might need a second dose.

Anyway, sorry I couldn't have done better this week, but space limitations preclude me from developing my best work. Think about it, how good would the movie 'Titanic' have been if they'd have cut it off before the ship sank, or had Shakespeare been forced to edit 'Macbeth' down so the final scene closed before the protagonist’s severed head was presented to his enemy? No, I never saw that play either, so I wouldn’t know, but let’s just assume it was better with the full presentation.

And I’m outta’ space already. Like Picasso with a half-emply palette, I am.