Stephen King, you may be surprised to know, is one of my favorite writers. Certainly I must mention that we parted ways, The King And I, when his work went through a period of time that was more slasher and gore than good ghost and wooly-booger yarns, but I believe King is one of the finest authors in the world.

Another reason I like Stevie so much is because he isnít aloof. He letís readers get into his mind, and into the life of a writer. I found myself identifying very often as he talked about the trials and tribulations of the written word, though I admit I did have a little difficulty identifying with the whole money, fame and notoriety part of his troubles.

But as a writer, I identify. Take last night. I was sitting down in my chair and had my laptop computer in, oddly enough, my lap to work on the novel Iíve been plodding through. I had not seen Patches since I got home but, soon as I put the laptop in Ė you guessed it Ė my lap, there she was, wanting some loving.

To Patches, a laptop computer is nothing more than a stable platform to walk and get some snoogum-oogum-snoogums from me. Her little kitten paws Ė because even though sheís full grown and aging, sheís still so thin and lanky I think of her as a kitten Ė are all over the keys. So a sentence that I intended to be:

It would all end badly, he knew. The only remaining question was how badly.

Thanks to my co-author became:

It would all end Badly, he kneb. The only remain;aolhjpo af was how pu pou.

Itís hard to fuss at her when sheís standing there, back feet on the "C" and "K" keys (my novel now reads ckckckckckckckckckckckckckc-kckckckckckckckckckckckck) and her front paws on my chest and sheís rubbing the side of her head against my chin purring like a runaway Timex.

The life of a wannabe writer. I take a certain amount of satisfaction that at least Iíve got this column and you kind people; Iíve self-published a memoir to good acclaim though limited financial reward; Iíve recently had an article accepted by Grayís Sporting Journal, one of the most prestigious outdoors magazines in the nation, and I am plodding through a difficult-to-write but in my opinion dang good novel.

At the same time, though, itís tough sometimes. I sit down here this morning to write a column. I have no ideas, but I believe that if I stare at the blank screen long enough I will come up with something.

The phone rings. The email comes. I have to do pages and take care of the Imagesetter. Thatís the machine that makes the paper before it goes to the press, not to be confused with an Irish setter, which makes puppies. Little red ones, too, cute as a button. Irish setters are much more fun than Imagesetters, though both are a bit crazy and unstable. Irish setters make puppies and chew up shoes. Imagesetters make negatives and chew up film when I need to be writing a column.

So now itís 10 a.m. and deadline for the entire paper to be done is 12. Copy deadline is about 11 a.m. I havenít done some of my other daily work yet because I donít want to sour the cistern. Poison the pool. Spoil the milk. You get the idea. Itís hard for me to write a police story then a column about Patches. The moods are diametrically opposed. Polar opposites. Dichotomies. Etc., etc. etc.

Ckckckckckckckckckckckckckckckckckckckc.

They say that if you put 12 monkeys in a room with 12 typewriters, given enough time they will type out the entire collected works of Shakespeare who, by they way, did it all 400 years ago without a monkey or a typewriter.

I guess by the same token that given enough time and suitable amounts of snoogum-oogum-snoogums me and Patches might get a column written for today, but itíd probably be past deadline.

Itís kinda like last weekend when I went to the grocery store. I had a grocery list for me, and one for Mom. I ran up and down that store six times from one end to the other looking for stuff before I finished. When I got to the cashier with a basket that was swayback in the middle and the wheels splayed out from the load, she asked for "my card." You know the place. They donít put anything on sale, you have to have "a card" to get the discounts. I gave her my card, she scanned it and gave it back. We rang up and I paid for my momís stuff and put it in the basket, then before she rang up my stuff, she asked for "my card" again. The same one I had just given her. Had to scan it again, you see. I just donít get it.

Okay, youíre right. That story has nothing to do with writing columns and try as I might I canít even come up with a convoluted analogy that might work in some alternate dimension. But itís been in my craw all week and I just had to get it out.

Because the thing that got me the worst was that by the time I got home, my bread was smushed.

And it had rained on the way. I drive a pickup, you know.

Anyway, hereís a Friday column. Sorry I didnít have anything better to say.

Patches sends this message for you all:

Ckckckckckckckckckcckckckckckckckckck.

Translation: "Have a great weekend."