Some of the nation’s best writers are baby boomers. But it takes a lot to be good at it. From Downers Grove, near Chicago, Harold Witkov has found his own way to write. And he found it on a battlefield. With a metaphor from long ago.
I love Gettysburg. And the antique stores! It is like walking through small quaint museums— only everything is for sale.
It’s been almost 25 years since I last visited Gettysburg. It was in one of those antique stores that the owner explained to me the difference between a musket and a rifle. He said that an old-time musket had a long hollow barrel and fired a round ball. Its accuracy was limited. The inside barrel of a rifle, on the other hand, is grooved. The grooves cause a fired ball to spin. This spinning action makes the bullet travel straight and true.
“How fascinating,” thought the history buff in me. “How very intriguing,” thought the writer in me.
Like most writers, I want my stories to fly true and have an impact. But I have learned that many of them are like musket balls fired through a hollow barrel. Writing about interesting personal experiences is never enough. So I take those little slice-of-life vignettes and link them to something much greater in scope, in a way not before considered. In short, I connect my own dots. To make sure my stories fly straight as a bullet, I put my very own spin on them.
Now for some writers and journalists, spin can be a dirty word, a definite no-no. Spin means manipulation and propaganda. But I’m not writing about propaganda spin. I’m writing about the sincere writer finding a way to connect with his or her readers.
And here is where the use of a great metaphor can be so helpful, especially for a baby boomer. But, you may ask, can a writer be guilty of stretching a metaphor too far? Yes, if the writer is hollow on the inside. But if he is from the ‘60s, is a groovy guy, and has a groovy kind of love of writing, then he can get away with it.