I'm often asked a couple of questions by people who read this column regularly.
The first is usually "Where do you come up with your ideas?" The second, and more viable of the two, is along the lines of "How do you get away with the things you say about your wife?"
Relating to the first, there's no simple answer. Often, material has a way of presenting itself. One of the easiest things in the world (at least for me) is writing about what and who I care about. I could write about my wife and family all day, continuously brainstorming different topics that seem relevant at the time.
Sometimes, there's an issue - or person - that's been bothering me the week a column is due. Writing can be extremely cathartic and a stress reliever, which is one of its best qualities. I treat this column as a private journal, sometimes forgetting that I'm writing to thousands of readers.
I think this makes it more authentic, though. As readers, you'd be able to tell if I were holding back or candy-coating a topic.
This leads me to the second question, in which people wonder what my wife thinks about these columns and their sometimes brutally honest content.
I learned a long time ago when dealing with Heather that it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Many times, I don't even give her the opportunity to read the columns ahead of time. Trust me, I'm better off that way. Plus, sometimes it's just more fun to see the look on her face.
My grandmother told me recently that when she reads my column, she often holds her breath wondering what I'm going to say next about Heather. To be honest, I like that I can provide the slightest amount of shock; it keeps things a little more spontaneous, and makes the column (hopefully) worth reading.
In all seriousness, I've never said anything about my wife in one of these columns that I wouldn't say right to her face. Sometimes after a particularly juicier one is published, she'll read it and I'll get "the look." More times than not, there's more annoyance in this look than anger or even horror.
Besides, what do I care what she thinks? I'm bigger than her; she doesn't scare me. (I'm kidding, of course.)
When I write about my wife, I write with the same context our marriage is built on: honesty. If we're having issues in our relationship, neither of us hesitates to make the other aware of it. And I, in turn, don't hesitate to inform you readers, as well. Among the three of us, we usually come to a fair solution.
Heather also has realized along the way that I put a lot of heart into this column. She's come to the understanding that much of our relationship and life together will be public, for as long as my writing tenure lasts with the Sun-Gazette.
I'll continue to push the envelope as far as possible, because that's what I do. And she'll continue to shake her head at me in annoyance, because she's a wife. But most importantly, you the reader will ideally continue to read and find some type of value in the column, even if it's for pure entertainment.
If I've captured you for the 5 or 10 minutes it might take to read this column, then I've been successful. For that reason, I promise to continue being brutally honest for as long as you'll have me, regardless of how angry I make my wife.
Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, was a former Sun-Gazette reporter. He now resides in Scranton. His column is published on the third Sunday of each month.
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.