MALLOY: Why I do what I do... at 72
| July 18, 2022 11:19 AM
Happy birthday … to me.
Eighteen years ago, I didn’t think I’d make it this far — especially after a cardiologist told me that I was a candidate for “dropping” at any time. But here I am, 72 years old and feeling like a million dollars. Make that a billion dollars, with inflation.
And I can say that life has never been better. I have plenty of time to do things I enjoy — such as travel, golf, bowling and writing these commentaries. I have a wife of 32 years (Vicki) who loves me and thinks it’s a good idea for keeping the wheels of my brain turning. She forgives me, even when I forget to take out the garbage.
People ask me why I continue to do this. I don’t work for a news organization, or get paid. And with politics the way it is, people are skeptical about almost anything that appears on the editorial page. I’ve been called everything from a flaming liberal to a right-wing wacko.
The truth is that I can’t identify with either political party. I don’t endorse Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, nor do I embrace the Democratic Party’s efforts to turn the United States into a socialist republic. Both ends of the scale are guided by hatred and there is no middle ground. It’s no wonder that Republicans and Democrats do such a horrible job of governing effectively when they have control of the White House and both houses of Congress.
So, why do I continue writing about politics — and essentially banging my head against the wall? Largely, it’s out of fear of what might happen if I didn’t write.
There’s a process that goes with this little operation. It starts with coming up with ideas, both for the short-term and weeks ahead. Then it’s finding sources to help tell the story. I generally don’t write straight opinion pieces; for one thing, I’m not nearly smart enough or talented enough to bowl over readers with “my view” every week. So, I rely on sources — such as members of Congress or candidates running for public offices — to tell their sides of various issues.
The writing part is not as easy as one might think. I generally compose a “rough draft,” which basically is putting down whatever comes to mind. Then I let it simmer for a day or two before getting back to it. I may write, and rewrite, a couple more times before sending it off to the best editor I’ve ever had — my big sister, Marian. She is a magnet for catching silly little mistakes, such as typos and punctuation errors. Many years ago, Marian typed and edited theses and dissertations for graduate students at Washington State University, so reading my columns is light work for her.
And she takes pride in bailing out her “little” brother and keeping him from looking like a world-class fool. She’s the greatest editor, and best big sister, in the world. Well … tied for best with my other big sister, Dorothy.
So, when I contemplate hanging it up, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t challenge myself and go through this process. Vicki probably wouldn’t like so much having me sitting around the house all day watching old-time TV westerns (when I’m not playing golf or bowling). Beyond that, what I’m doing is fun as well as challenging.
I’ve had conversations with a few of my 70-something friends about the importance of brain exercise. We’ve shared stories about not being as sharp as we once were, or bouts of forgetfulness. But readers, and trusted editors, tell me I have not lost anything on the writing end — and I don’t think those are empty words to make an old guy feel better. Editors throughout the state run my columns every week and I continue to receive feedback — positive and negative.
Sooooo … why pack it in now? Life is better than ever, and I feel there is plenty more for me to offer.
The best thing about what I do is that I “work” under my own terms. I can quit at any time, but can’t be fired. It’s one more thing that makes life incredibly good.
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Chuck Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at email@example.com