Less Teeth, More Wisdom

Photo: Chris Bateman (my father) a distinguished journalist and humorist for over 30 years. I rarely take photos of him without first asking him to remove his false teeth.

Combing through the latest issue of my mom's magazine, or looking through my dad's columns from when he travelled around the world (he was that "our man in ___" guy for a while in the 80s),  I realize how much they have accomplished, and how much I admire them. Coming from the bullshit-ridden love-dome of academia, I am accustomed to being patted on the back for the smallest thing, being urged forward with only the gentlest criticism (yay Liberal Arts college!). My parents can always be counted on for a reality check.

“There’s no such thing as writers block.” my dad said. “You think I could tell my editor, sorry, I couldn’t turn in a story today, I have writer’s block. No. A ditch-digger doesn’t say to his boss, sorry boss, can’t dig ditches today, got digger’s block.”

On the car ride from the airport, I told my mom I've been trying to "develop my voice" as a writer.

"Honey," she said, "your father and I make fun of people who talk about developing their 'voice'. Nobody cares about your voice. It doesn't mean anything unless you know how to write."

Sometimes I wonder why I shouldn't just scrap the whole college thing and learn a few things from them. I guess there's always remedial post-graduation re-education.


  1. you gotta heap a lot on the pile and make a pretty big mess so people can really get their hands dirty with it when you finally leave the room.

  2. a voice is a tool, and there are many voices. I prefer to write down all my life lessons through the voice of a husky-voiced man breathing down your neck in between sucking the mucus out of many persimmons.