Oh shoot… the column | Mark’s Remarks

marksPeople often ask me, “Where do you find time to work, be a husband and father and write this column?” It ain’t always easy.

There have been times in the past few years when I have been on a roll and have written several columns in a week. I jot a note to myself on my desk calendar that I do not need to think of a column idea for a few weeks. It’s a great feeling.

But usually at this time of the year, I am finally settling into a school routine (yes, most teachers will tell you that it takes until Halloween to settle) and I’m still not as organized as I should be. I’m tired. The creative juices do not flow.

During this particular season, I usually wake up in the night on Sundays or arise on Monday morning thinking “Oh no. I haven’t sent a column in yet.” And then, it’s on my mind for the rest of the day.

As I am brushing my teeth, I ponder what to write about.  Perhaps I could find something funny while brushing my teeth.  Perhaps something funny about brushing my teeth. What about the way my kids leave their toothbrushes in various places all over the bathroom, even though we have three bathrooms in the house? No, not enough material there.

Then I have long moments where I think of maybe a few good ideas but then it occurs to me I probably have written about the same things before.

I had the bright idea a few years ago at this time to tell the story about the boys storing Halloween candy wrappers under the TV cabinet in the family room. I wrote it and it was hilarious. Then, I went to save it on my computer and there was already a column called “Candy Wrappers.” I had already told the story. Oh well, I sent it anyway. A repeat.

After several moments of wondering if I’ve already covered a topic, I start to think of all the preaching I can do to you all. I enjoy sharing things I’ve learned about my Christian walk, often stepping on toes and causing folks to roll their eyes. I make no apologies for what I believe.

Then I start to think of all the judgmental crap I’ve written about how to raise children and how weird humans are and I think “Why would anyone think I’m even a half-way decent example of a Christ follower?”

Still, there are moments when I try to think of some controversial topic I could write about. One that would make readers think that I’m far more complex and in tune to things than my usual “slice of life” columns portray.

As with this morning, a Monday, I decided to just sit down at my desk and start typing. Surely something will pop into my head. Surely something will occur to me. Or surely not.

Maybe Shirley has an idea. I know some ladies named Shirley. My mom’s name is Shirley.

It’s funny that I sometimes spend more time going back through a column, cutting things out, than I do writing the darn thing. I try to keep it to a certain length. If you read it very often, you will see that I tend to ramble, beat a dead horse, and generally restate the obvious. Many times, it is far, far too long to publish.

Today, however, the paragraphs stack up slowly and I wonder how much more I need to type before my two, double-spaced, typewritten pages are completed.

I wonder if people will write a lot of “Letters to the Editor” this week, making the editor happy that Tullis has kept it short this week.

And then, as I think there is simply nothing left to say in this column about not being able to think of something to write, I realize that this last paragraph has popped down to a third page. I’ve managed to go on and on about nothing for over two pages.

As many who know me would say, “What else is new?”

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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