The news about Lake Woebegone


Garrison Keillor sat down a few days ago for an interview with CNN in which he gave great advice to the millions of us who regularly spend some time with WordPress.

Keillor, 73, plans to retire later this year after 41 years as host of Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. When asked by CNN what he was most proud of, Keillor said: “Persistence.”

But it was his definition of success that should inspire any aspiring writer.

“Success is when you get up early in the morning and you feel ambitious and you go and you sit down at your computer with a cup of coffee and you’re still in your pajamas and there’s something you urgently want to do,” he said. “And that’s the good life, work.”

By that measure, I guess, this blog is a success. More importantly, there is a Midwestern-ess to his view of work and the good life with which I identify. For most of my life, I have lived in Iowa. But I’ve also lived in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Idaho. In all of those places, there were things that are much like the life Keillor describes in his stories from Lake Woebegone, his fictional Minnesota hometown.

That sense of familiarity is one of the reasons I have long admired Keillor. I’ve read many of his books and even liked some of them. But it’s his storytelling on the radio that I will miss.

He has chosen Chris Thile of Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers to succeed him on A Prairie Home Companion. No doubt, the show will change, but I wish Thile well, even if it’s difficult to not envy him just a little. As someone who writes a little, sings a little and has been known from time to time to talk on the radio and tell tall tales, succeeding Garrison Keillor would have been better than winning a $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot. Well, almost as good anyway.

But I’ll keep demonstrating my version of persistence while also trying to live up to his definition of success, sitting very early in the morning at the kitchen table in an otherwise quiet house, wearing sweats and sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee at my side. It is a good — and important — part of my life. And I’m pleased to share whatever gets produced early in the morning at this kitchen table with anyone who stops by for a virtual cup of coffee.

That’s the news today from Brome Hill, where the women are still sleeping, the men are hard-headed and the children woke up ill in the middle of the night.


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