Author: Cornish, Rick

Today's column from Rick Cornish

Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where the days are getting longer, the dogs have begun to grow back their winter coats and the humans would do the same if they were able. (We’ll do the long-johns thing, but we’re not there yet.)

I want to talk a little about writing the daily Welcome column, something I’m a bit of an expert on. (That and maintaining the fences that keep our dogs at home and off the busy and treacherous Jamestown Road that runs adjacent to our property are clearly the two things for which I was put on earth.) I want to talk about the writing of the Welcome column because the web team finds itself in need of a new columnist. Nat Schwartz, who’s written a Welcome column for over a year now, while at the same time serving as the CBA’s Teen Ambassador, is moving on, as all eighteen year olds do, and we need to replace him.

So, let me just jump right in here. First, the qualifications for the job. There are three: 1) a Welcome columnist must have something worth saying, at least one thing per month; 2) she or he must be able to say that thing in a way that is pleasing and entertaining to the reader; and 3) a Welcome columnist must swear on a stack of Bibles seven feet high that she or he will send their column to me no later than 9:00 p.m. the night before it is to run. (I must acknowledge here that swearing and doing are two different things, but most columnists observe the punctuality rule most of the time.) Over the years, people have asked me what criteria should govern the selection of their topics and my response has always been the same—don’t write about anything you wouldn’t talk about between songs in a jam. They ask me how long the columns should be and I answer no less than five hundred words and no more than an average piece in the New Yorker. (I don’t know how many words an average piece in the New Yorker runs but I use this as my standard answer to the length question because I think it makes our operation seem a little classier.) I’m also always asked how much editorial authority I have and, again, the answer is always the same—in eleven years I’ve only asked one writer to change one thing. His response after making the change…‘Nuff said’.

Now on to the rewards for being a Welcome columnist. First and foremost, you get to share on a monthly basis your writing, which is what you love to do more than almost anything in the world. Why am I so sure you love to share your writing? Because people who don’t have already stopped reading today’s Welcome. Second, you get to help shape opinion in the bluegrass community. More precisely, you get to try to help shape opinion in our community. (Influencing our particular extended family is a little like trying to wrangle ants with a steel rake.) Third, you get to check off the ‘do some volunteer work for the CBA’ item on your mental check-list of important things to do before you die. This third reward, I have found, becomes more and more important as our columnists age. And lastly, if you sign on as a Welcome columnist for the California Bluegrass Association web site you have an automatic invitation to our annual Thursday Night Fathers Day Festival Welcome Columnist Jam, which sounds darned exclusive until you realize that pretty much anybody who wants to can come by and have a beer.

So that’s it, friends. The requirements are few, the rewards are many and the fun begins the instant you sign your name to the dotted line. If you’d like more information about the possibility of becoming one of our columnists, drop me a note, please.
Posted:  10/18/2012

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