Help Wanted: Reply Within

The hardest thing about being a NotGraphs writer, apart from the endless demands of the groupies, the financial requests from our families and the ribbon cuttings and blog signings that we are forced to turn down, is the act of generating what we in the story industry call “story ideas.” 


A “story idea” – how can I simplify this for those who don’t understand? – is an “idea” for a “story.” It is the Prime Mover of the objet d’art that you will know, especially if you are French, as le masterpiece and that groupies will know as Spanish fly. In short, it gets the scribe to where he needs to be – first, to the beginning of the story and then to the end, whereupon he can conduct the more important business of honoring his Pleasure Schedule, which for me is Sindee (with an i) at noon, Syndee (with a y) at 2 and everybody else at the 4:30 matinee.

For each NotGraphs writer, “priming the movement” is a uniquely personal challenge. David G. Temple likes to stand outside in his underwear — or, if his underwear is unavailable, a neighbor’s underwear – and prostrate himself to a light bulb on a nearby lamppost. As for Jeremy Blachman, he just Googles “good ideas,” though he often spells it “good ides” and therefore writes about March 15. For his part, Carson Cistulli typically ingests a dram of absinthe and a gram of peyote and then calls me, usually around midnight, to ask, “Got any good ideas?”

At this point you are asking: “How does Mr. Paschal, he of such prolific output despite the demands on time and groin, come up with such super-golden ideas?”

To which Mr. Paschal responds, “I don’t! My personal assistant does it for me! His name is Jeeves, and he’s a peach, I tells ya, an absolute peach!”

Of course the hardest thing for Jeeves to do, apart from chilling the Asti Spumanti and cueing up the Barry White, is incorporating the sport of baseball, or the word baseball, into each story idea. Example: For this story, Jeeves suggested that I mention the difficulty of incorporating “baseball” into each story idea.

Jeeves then had another idea: “Why not allow your readers – both of them…”

Now that Jeeves is no longer working here, I have to come up with my own ideas and one idea is this: Why not allow readers, all of them, to pitch story ideas? And from the best of those ideas I will craft an intriguing and perhaps titillating story!

And here I am, dear reader(s), awaiting your finest pitch(es).

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

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9 years ago

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