At a writer’s workshop a long time ago, an editor of True Confessions Magazine suggested that if we were interested in writing for them or one of the other similar publications, we should read the advice columns in the newspapers for story ideas. Writing for those magazines was a good source of income for a writer just starting out, and I considered the idea. However, I just couldn’t get into the mind-set to write about some of the things people would ask about in their letters.
I thought of that recently when I was reading Dear Abbey – I still read the columns now and then because you can pick up really interesting character ideas, which is not at all the same as saying I read Playboy because of the articles. Honest.
Anyway, I always thought the letters came from real people and were about real problems, but more recently I have wondered if the letters are made up. Take for instance a recent letter from a man who said that he has a small travel trailer for weekend fishing trips and has always taken his dog along, who sleeps on the bed with him. Now his wife wants to go on a weekend outing with them and he thinks the dog should have first dibs on the bed since she was there first. When he told his wife that she would have to sleep in the back of the truck, she was upset and is now not speaking to him.
The letter-writer thought his wife was being inconsiderate and selfish.
To her credit, Abbey suggested that the man sleep in the back of the truck and let the wife and dog share the bed.
Now I ask. Could that be a true story?
On another note, today I am over at Sylvia Ramsey’s blog, Thoughtful Reflections, talking about books and what I do when I am not writing. Stop by if you get a chance. I didn’t make anything up in that interview.