The Herald Bulletin

March 7, 2013

Q&A with Lori Borgman

National columnist to speak at Pendleton library

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — Lori Borgman never intended to write a column. She started out as a photojournalist but writing was a lot easier to do than photography with three small children.

“A camera bag weighs enough without having three kids too,” she said with a laugh.

The now nationally syndicated columnist and author of several books was a stay-at-home mom writing freelance when she started writing the column for the Indianapolis Star. Within a couple of years the column was picked up for national distribution.

Borgman said she will always have a debt of gratitude to the Star, who first ran her column. The two had an “amiable parting” several years ago. She said although her column is published throughout the U.S. and Canada, it “still seems odd not to be in my hometown paper.” Readers can find it at her website www.loribogman.com and subscribe to it by email.

She and husband Charlie Nye live in Indianapolis, have three grown children — a son and two daughters — and five grandchildren (with a sixth on the way) all within three years of each other.

She will be speaking Saturday morning at Pendleton Community Library. The goal of her humor column is twofold — present the idea that a family that works tremendously well is a tremendous blessing and that same family can drive you straight up the wall.

Borgman will have copies of her most recent book — “The Death of Commonsense.”

THB: What should those coming to your library presentation expect?

Lori Borgman: There will be nothing educational about it. It will just be family humor. I won’t be sharing the secret to weight loss, how to make a million bucks or how to day trade on the stock market.

I take anywhere from 35 to 50 speaking engagements a year all around the country — an odd assortment of things. I spoke at a cattle breeders dinner — a fish fry, I never understood that, but it was really good fish. I also did a convention for funeral home workers. Next week I’ll be at the Nebraska Women in Ag conference. I don’t farm.

THB: Most journalists don’t start out as columnists. Tell me about how you got to where you are today?

LB: I was a photojournalist first. I started out at the Kansas City Star, worked for the Fargo Forum and the Eugene Register Guard. I was also the editor of a weekly paper somewhere in there in my early 20s. I always wrote at every paper I was a shooter (photojournalist) for. I did photo features where I would do the story and the pictures. Writing just kind of happened.

THB: What is your family’s reaction to seeing stories about them appear in the newspaper? Anything off limits? Do you ask them if it is OK to share?

LB: I’ve never used their names. I always have tried to protect their privacy. There are certain topics I’ve never written about — dating, which would be really funny. I’ve always said my best material goes unused. Relationships with family are more important than a laugh at a column. I try to keep my columns universal — maybe something that happened at my house could have happened at yours. It can’t just be about me and my kids.

THB: How do you come up with ideas for your columns? What are your favorite things to write about?

LB: I wish I knew the answer to that. Sometimes I’m looking at a blank computer screen asking myself the same thing. Then I hear myself telling stories, someone laughs and thinks it is funny. I think, “maybe that’s a column.”

What I write about is very eclectic. I touch on anything that comes under that broad umbrella of family — often it is humorous but sometimes it is serious. Sometimes the serious columns get a bigger response than the humorous ones.

An example of that — the obituary I wrote for common sense. It has been published around the globe. It was a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing.

THB: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

LB: I’m not sure who the guy was, but he knew I was writing a column. He told me it was good and to keep it up. And he also said, “If you worry about writing something that will please everyone, you’ll never write anything.”

THB: What is your advice for writers and bloggers trying to break out?

LB: Get a Plan B. It is a very shaky field. I don’t think I could start out now and become me today. The interest is gone; the medium is changing. Syndicates are dwindling. The industry has changed dramatically and at warp speed.

THB: What do you hope people take away from your books and columns?

LB: I hope they just laugh or smile on a dreary day.

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.