Advice on how to be a columnist,unless your name is Britney Spears


Throughout my illustrious career as a columnist (stop laughing!), I have been approached by many aspiring columnists who wish to know how one actually lands a gig like this.

Throughout my illustrious career as a columnist (stop laughing!), I have been approached by many aspiring columnists who wish to know how one actually lands a gig like this.

This is because for most aspirants the standard editor reply to a columnist’s query is “the world doesn’t need another Bombeck/Barry/Dear Abby so don’t give up your day job kid.”

Why, to hear tell, it is harder to break into column writing than it is to get into the space program. Yet against all odds, from time to time another one of the lucky few makes it.

Success. So what’s the secret to writing success? How can you, too, land a low-paying but high-profile writing job easily performed from home in your bathrobe? Does it take years of higher education spent toiling over grammar and punctuation? Fast paced internship under the tutelage of your generation’s greatest literary minds? Dumb luck and blind faith and some speck of talent that lands you, inexplicably, in the right place at the right time?

Ahh see, had you answered “yes” to any of those choices, you would have been oh-so-very wrong.

It turns out the path to an illustrious career as a professional columnist is as close to your fingertips as silicone implants, a hasty and ill-advised marriage to a rock star, or a pesky attempted murder charge on your juvenile record. And you, silly thing, thought you needed raw talent!

Fame. It was announced just this week that one of the great literary minds of our time, Miss Pamela Anderson Lee – also known as the “Baywatch Babe” and pin-up extraordinaire – has landed a regular columnist position with Jane magazine. Ms. Anderson-Lee, we are told, will expound on “women’s issues,” such as parenting, health, and relationships – as I can imagine only a woman with a body full of silicon and a penchant for dating drug-addled rock stars possibly could.

Nonetheless, we must give Jane some credit. They certainly did score one for the previously under represented “former Playboy Playmate, blonde bombshell addicted to dating bad boy rock star” demographic.

Columnist paroled. I imagine those subscription rates will just soar. Meanwhile, over in Long Island, the local paper will soon feature the literary stylings of Miss Amy Fisher.

You may recall Amy. Think big hair and bad attitude teenage style. Amy’s high school yearbook undoubtedly would list her as “most likely to shoot her lover’s wife in the head” because well, darn those moody teenage girls, but that’s exactly what she did.

Little Amy is all grown up and (apparently) paroled. As such, it only makes sense that she would be offered a position as a weekly writer for her local paper, right? I’m sure no one can cover the town meetings and campfire girl rallies quite like a recently paroled felon.

While I am familiar with the “hometown girl makes good” angle in small-town reporting, I was unaware that “hometown girl makes bail!” held the same appeal.

Just causes. Lest we think that only our nation’s editors have fallen victim to the vapid pursuit of fame, over on Capitol Hill, our nation’s top representatives have sat in rapt attendance as various learned minds such as one of those cute 20-something “boys” from the pop group N’Sync testified on the environmental hazards of strip mining.

And here you thought his talents stopped at crooning puppy love ballads to over-heated preteens.

Turns out he’s good for lending his 15 minutes of fame to the cause of banning mining.

Meanwhile, on another issue, Christie Brinkley, our nation’s oldest living adorable person, also lent her form, er I mean, fame to the cause.

Look, I could do some research and figure out WHICH cause but honestly, does it matter? It’s Christie Brinkley.

Great. Something else to worry about beyond the thousand or so actual WRITERS who on any given day want my job. Now I have to wonder if, say, Britney Spears might get a bug in her belly-button to develop a sudden penchant to write on mid-America’s lifestyle.

Just to be safe, if Ms. Spears should call for the editor, let’s just remind her that the columnist dress code might allow bathrobes, but it definitely nixes bare navels. Or is that only in my contract?

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt can’t sing, act, or dance so she hopes that Miss Spears keeps her bellybutton out of the writing biz. She welcomes reader comments c/o or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.