What I wrote about when I had nothing to write about

In my first year as a newspaper reporter, there were days when I had not beat to cover and no assignment, and I would be hanging around the office, desperate for something to do (I was paid per story). One day, my editor told me to get in my car and drive around. He pointed me to the smallest town in our coverage area. It was a community of about 100 people, tops.

Head there and find some news, he said. Something must be happening.

I did as he told, although I was skeptical. I got into my car and drove. I wandered through the small town in the middle of the day. There were no stores there, just homes, and everyone was at work or doing something else. They were not making news on their front porch.

Keep looking, my editor said, when I found a pay phone to call him. Knock on doors, he suggested.

Instead, I drove to the next town, where there was a convenience store and grabbed a soda and a snack. I relaxed for a spell. I drove again into the small town, just wandering. Just looking. And finding nothing.

I returned later to the office, my notebook empty. I worried about facing the editor, whom I wanted to impress.

Well? my editor asked. What did you find?

Nothing, I said. It’s quiet.

Some days are like that, he said, surprising me. I’ll pay you anyway.

I went home that night, not having written a thing.

Some days, there’s not much to write about. But still, I write. You just read it.

Peace (in the remembering),


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