One of the things about writing a monthly column that gets a little weird is handing in the column a month before the publish date. So for the September column, I send it to the editor around August 1. Most of the time, this temporal gap isn’t a problem because family and parenting issues are not time sensitive. But this month—remember, it’s August—I’m pressed for time and it’s hot and I can’t think of a thing to write. So I dig into my file of press releases from other parenting sources and decide to put together a column of other people’s news and success stories.
But what about the lead?
Hmmm…In retrospect, I could have simply said: “Too hot, Can’t think, Here’s some news from other folks.”
But oh no…I decided to make an elaborate analogy between never ending New England winters and endless Texas Summers beginning with this sentence: September is the cruelest month, purposefully echoing T.S. Eliot’s opening in The Waste Land: April is the cruelest month…which was not referencing weather so much as desire and awakenings but what the heck…
Sure enough, my editor shot me an email: “If you write September, it’s as if you wrote the column on August 31.” I said I thought would be okay. He didn’t. So it opens: August was the cruelest month.
It was still August. I was still hot. I went with it.
Note to self: Avoid specific references to time in the lead.