The Emporium Gazette
Issue 5 -- September 1999

Front Porch Ruminations or
I Wanna Be In Print

by Bob Nailor

The front porch is a perfect place to sit, watch, and think; to see life spread its off-Broadway production before you on a lazy summer day. I thirst to be a writer, to see my name in print, to grab a small claim to fame. This is where it will happen and writing is easy. Anybody can do it.

I have everything necessary: pad, pencils, the fastest laptop computer available, a super word processor, a snazzy printer with pristine white paper, chilled lemonade, some how-to books and lots of fancy doo-dads strewn about to inspire me.

The books are to guide me while my fingers tapdance across the keys and create the 'Great American Novel' that will skyrocket my name to fame. Well, maybe not a full novel, perhaps just a short story for starters. I realize that even the best writers had to hone their skills and pay their dues. At best an overnight success ---- takes about two years.

On the front porch, I have time and the summer's warmth is comforting.

What should I write? The street is busy with traffic flowing briskly in each direction. Each passing vehicle is a story racing away from me. A burly driver slows his large, blue rig before my porch on its way to Detroit. Could he be a hero? What genre? Maybe just a travel article? Already I'm pre-rejecting what I'm going to write.

Perhaps I should search beyond the street. On the other side of Jefferson Street, in Riverview, are the remains of an old steel mill. Hills of rust create the immediate terrain and I can see the old, dilapidated mill in the distance to the south. My mind races with images of rolling smoke, sweaty men in shiny hard-hats, whistles and the thunderous roar of machinery. Hmm, could it be? There appears to be drama, heartbreak, sympathy, even anger. Perhaps I could highlight the life of one worker and the emotional tides he experiences when the mill shuts down.

A little girl riding a bicycle draws my attention to the sidewalk in front of the porch. She wobbles her way down the cement path toward the playground next door where other children play. It reminds me of my first bicycle and the trauma of humiliation learning to ride it. That could be a children's story. I can see the editor's reject letter saying, "Been there, done that."

I'm on the front porch and a million stories just waiting to be told, to be put on paper, to be sold for profit.

Profit? Well, profit isn't my only motivation. I mean, I want to write because of the personal pleasure I receive in the creative process. If I happen to get paid to write, then that's a plus, but I don't plan to make this my livelihood. Six digit writers are few and fewer.

The lemonade is refreshing. I sip it and savor a cool breeze scented lightly with roses and other flowers in the beds that surround the house.

Flowers, the words bring me to my senses! I could write a story about the do's and don'ts of gardening in a small yard, and the rewards that one receives while communing with nature. Now I see the editor yawning.

I set my lemonade aside and start a game of solitaire. Did I mention that the laptop came with a few neat games?

The screech of tires pulls my attention from the card game. I've won two games and lost five to the computer.

The front porch, a gateway to the world and all its wonders.

When you can't write, just start writing something. Some great sage had written those prophetic words in one of the books that now lay at my feet between the small, green plastic soldier and the fluffy, purple lion. That idea has merit and therefore I begin typing.

Mary had a little lamb . . .
The quick red fox . . .

So, this is what they call writer's block; the inability to put on paper any coherent thoughts that will congeal, or continue, a preconceived story line.

This sucks.

Wait a minute. What's that? In the sky. It's gleaming, possibly shining at me. It's a light, I think. Too small to be a plane and too close to be anything very large. Could it be contact? Aliens? Obviously, nothing like this ever happens except in the movies.

Be still my heart. It's just a silver heart-shaped balloon illegally immigrating, probably lost by some child in Canada.


How about a toy soldier, no, a rebel during the French revolution, who uses a balloon so he can escape from a place of hardship to anyplace, landing, in fact, in a town called Anyplace where a trucker, make him a Gypsy, with a blue rig, no, a blue wagon, befriends him. Suddenly he finds himself in a secret plot to overthrow a Purple Lion Dictator. Strike that and make it villains, the Dukes of Burgandy and Leon. He saves the princess child, and they escape on a bicycle to Flowerland Porch, no, La Floure, where, an aspiring writer, who once was a hard-hatted steel mill worker ...that won't work. He'd have to be a blacksmith. Where a French novelist, who was once the town smithy, protects them from the ravages of reality.

It could happen.

Frustrated by the distractions of my perfect location, I now understand exactly what another writing master had said.

Write what you know and lock yourself away in a room.

The front porch, a perfect place to sit, sip, sample life and put down for all time your thoughts and views about whatever. You can use a very fast computer if you have one.

'Dear Diary. Today I thought I'd become a writer, but I'll wait until tomorrow and then, work in the backroom.'

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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