Treat Yourself Write: Visit Ned Hickson

Ned Hickson, JurnalistThis is an image of Ned Hickson. I secretly ripped it off from Ned’s Blog because I didn’t want to give him any warning about this article.

For those of you who are enrolled in the Thought Police or Copyright Commitatas, you should go right over to Ned’s place and tell him about my unprovoked, illicit actions. He’s a professional writer, so he’ll know just what to do about it.

Go ahead, if you feel the need. I’ll wait.

Now, a brief word about Ned. Yes, I stole this also. It’s from his About page:

Ned Hickson is an editor and humor columnist for the Siuslaw News, a small Oregon newspaper where the motto is: Your dependable source for local news. Twice weekly. Unless we lose count.

There’s a lot more on that page about Ned. Really interesting reading, and funny. It should be your first stop. Ready?

Go ahead. I’ll keep waiting for you.

Now, let’s begin. First, the full disclosure.

No, I’m not Ned’s publicist. I’m not his agent, editor, confessor, grandfather or anything else. In fact, I’ve never met Ned. I only know him through his words. But, I consider him a friend. Whenever he’s in the mood to dwaddle with the old farts of writing, he’s welcome at my place. He’s certainly earned his spot at the table.

Why?

Because he’s a great writer, in my opinion. Although we’re from two very different generations – my ancient Beat Generation swamp gas upbringing versus his modern, journalistic approach – we share a common love of word art. He qualifies as a real pro, in my view. That’s pretty rare in these parts.

Since this blog is for and about writers, I thought it was time to stick my finger outside the box and point at one of them who has earned my respect, and my loyal readership. Ned came to mind, right away.

Why?

Why do you keep asking that? Don’t you want to just take my word for it?

OK, let’s diddle out a few reasons, personal but important to this old geezer.

Funny bone. Ned has a protruding funny bone. It fact, you can see it from a block away. Now, without humor, life dries up at some point. To keep sunny, you need your daily dose of chuckles. It’s important to have a well-developed sense of humor. It’s rare when you can share it with others and make it work. Lots of alleged humor columnists I’ve read, and they have been legend, just aren’t funny. Maybe because they try too hard. Maybe they just don’t have what it takes. Maybe Ned is trying too. But, I don’t feel him trying too hard. I just know that he makes it work. The guy is a hoot and it seems effortless. That’s the mark of a seasoned, skillful writer. Ned doesn’t make you work. He lets you sit back and enjoy the ride.

Ned SleepingWoops, here’s another image I stole from Ned. Go ahead, rat me out. I’ll wait.

Too serious? Ned doesn’t take himself seriously. Therefore, I do. I have no room for barf-bag writer-dictators who writhe heavy-handed through my reading life. I want someone who slips into the background to make their point, even when they’re writing about themselves. Ned does just that. When he uses the dreaded “I” word, I still feel like I’m a part of the story. He is me, I am him, and we’re just having a good time together. Love it. That’s not something you learn in Writing 101. That comes from talent and practice. Lots of practice. Lots of work.

Tricks of the trade. If you’ve been writing for a living for a while, you get to know the tricks of the trade. There are many. Some are complex. Lots of them work well when used by a craftsman. These are not secret society rituals. They are just things that good writers do to make their words work. Other writers know them and appreciate them. Readers may not ferret them out, but they wouldn’t be happy without those tricks. Ned has mastered them. That’s called “professionalism.”

The voice. Strong, seasoned writers have their own, unique voices. After you’ve read their stuff for a while, you don’t need to glance at the byline. The style is familiar, the voice is well-known. Ned has it. You’ll find it over at his blog, in everything he writes.

Is he popular? I have no idea. I suspect he has a good following. Guess what? I don’t care. He’s very popular with me and I’m a very fussy reader. I don’t do newspapers because they’ve outlived their usefulness with the Internet. I can get most of my books digitally these days. What I won’t give up is the sheer pleasure in reading the word art of folks like Ned.

Is this a commercial? No. You silly reader. Go on over there and have some fun. See how a seasoned, professional writer goes about his business. If you’re still early on in your writing-road journey, I think you’ll pick up some good tips and learn how a hard-working journalist goes about his business.

If you don’t go over there and do some reading, I may just give you a good spanking.

It’s Ned’s Blog. Humor at the speed of life. Spend some time there and learn how to have fun reading.

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16 thoughts on “Treat Yourself Write: Visit Ned Hickson

  1. Wow, Michael. I’m extremely humbled. Which happens often, but usually when I’m about to throw the TV remote because it’s not working, then suddenly realize it’s the temperature control for the heating pad. Thank you for the kind words, and for a spot at the table. I hope to take you up on that some time. Until then, Cheers….

    …Oh hell, cheers before then, too.

  2. Thank you for saying — beautifully — all the things I’ve been thinking about Ned and his blog. And though I would have loved that spanking, it’s too late — I’ve already been over there reading everything I can get my hands on.

  3. It really was nice to hear you write about bed. Ned and I met about 6 Weeks ago when I changed over to the WordPress.com format.

    As far as i know Ned is very busy. But he is never too busy to help me out when I have questions. Ilhave emailed him several times asking him this or that. He always seems to find the time to respond back and it really have something to say when he does it.

    Ned was the first blogger I felt a real friendship with. I am a better writer because of him.

  4. Happily read all the way to the end, readied the mouse finger to click LIKE, and saw that I already had. I had a good time hiding my own Easter eggs, too, this year.

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