This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, November 7, 1990

November 7, 1990 - Writing contest

It's madness.

The pay - almost always - is terrible. The hours are spectacularly erratic. It's hard and lonely work. To get to the top exacts a terrible price, and even success frequently results in personal tragedy.

Clearly, creative writing is obsessive behavior at its worst.

What's the point to giving, as Oscar Wilde did, a whole day to the removal, then restoration, of a comma? Why huddle in the proverbial hovel, scratching out love poems and short stories? If you want status, be a doctor or lawyer. If you want to make money, sell cars.

But we librarians understand writers. We can spot them even as children. They carry notebooks. Their eyes blaze as they walk through our bookstacks, as if they strolled among gods.

Budding writers know that if they can just manage to write well enough, their words too can be preserved, touching and shaping thousands of minds to come. For some, that's the grand payoff: Immortality.

Of course, writing is appealing for other reasons as well. There is a great and satisfying craft to casting the well-rounded sentence, in making a character come alive, in startling the reader with an utterly unexpected observation or conclusion.

Libraries have many responsibilities, but among our most important are the recognition of local writers who have "made it," and the encouragement of new writers.

I am very much on the lookout for local authors. If you know of anyone who has published a book, or you've published one yourself, come talk to me about it. I'll buy it!

But how to stimulate and develop new local authors? Here's one way: I am pleased to announce the "1990 Budding Author's Contest."

The Friends of Douglas County Libraries will be offering cash prizes for original works of poetry and short fiction. Submissions will be due at any Douglas County Public Library System branch no later than 4:00 p.m. on November 24, 1990.

We're particularly interested in getting children involved in creative writing. All the schools in the Douglas County School District have received a copy of the official rules for the contest.

Adults are also invited to submit their works. Free copies of the rules are available at your local branch library.

Writers know that writing is hard work. But we hope too that they know they'll always have a home at their local library. After all, without them, where would WE be?


I'd like to close this week's column with a farewell. Stephen Buffy, our Reference Librarian, will be leaving us this week to take a position as a reference librarian for the Sonoma County libraries in Santa Rosa, California.

Stephen made significant progress in improving the quality of our reference collection. He has worked particularly hard on our business reference materials.

Stephen's other project has been the development, with Beryl Jacobsen of the C.S.U. Extension Office, and the Information Systems staff of Douglas County, of a Community Information Referral database. If you have a microcomputer and modem, you will be able to tap into this database from home. Not incidentally, you'll also be able to "dial in" to the entire catalog of library holdings. But I'll have more to say about that next week.

All the staff at the Douglas County Public Library System will miss Stephen. We wish him the best of luck at his new position!

No comments:

Post a Comment