Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 11.29.04
Stanstead, Quebec


How to kidnap, and other writing tips

To celebrate Be Kind to Obnoxious Columnists Week, I thought I'd answer some reader mail:

Dear Mr. Murray,

I would like to break into the writing racket. Do you have any tips?

PW, Farnham, QC

Dear PW,

Yes, don't smoke in the shower (ha-ha!). But seriously, PW, the secret to a successful writing career is to determine which market you want to target and then arrange a well-planned kidnapping. Editors and publishers are very busy and receive dozens of story queries a day so it's important to get their attention. Don't worry, kidnapping is standard publishing industry practice and publishers/editors (known in the industry as "victims") rarely press charges as long as you keep them in bourbon and trashy romance novels.

Dear Ross,

Is it true you received an honorary degree in recognition of your philanthropic work? LP, Newport, VT

Dear LP,

You may be thinking of the honorary doctorate I received for my philatelic work. My stamp collection is renowned throughout the world, especially my 25-cent Tonga stamp depicting Queen Elizabeth holding an Elmo doll. In my commencement address at the University of Dulce, I told the Class of 2004: "You are the future generation. I was the future generation but now I'm the present generation. Soon you will be present and I will be past. But not too far behind, just a bit, because you will be past right after your present is past. So don't pass up your present for your future past. And stamps aren't really a very good investment."

Dear Mr. Murray,

First, how do you come up with ideas for your columns? And second, have you seen my glasses?

LL, Ste-Agathe, QC

Dear LL,

To answer your first question, ideas are everywhere. For instance, a dream I had the other night about Huey Lewis offering me a school tie while we crossed a rope bridge is sure to make good column fodder. There are so many ideas out there, in fact, that just go ahead and steal someone else's; no one will ever notice. That's what I do. To answer your second question: yes and, boy, are they ugly.

Ross (actual letter),

After 44 years living in the West Island I have seen good progress in the relationship between the (French and English) communities. Unfortunately two referendums were not enough to get rid of all the racists of your type in this province/country-to-be.

RA, Pointe Claire, QC

Dear RA,

Actually, referendums are why racists like me end up in Quebec in the first place. Such a foundation of instability is an ideal breeding ground for our hate literature and radio phone-in shows. And of course I enrolled my children in the French school system so they can grow, live and work comfortably anywhere in Quebec in order to spread my racist doctrine. Booya-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Dear S.,

Scientists have proven that the funniest animal is a duck. So just keep writing about ducks and you'll have them rolling in the aisles. Or you could pretend to be a duck. That would be a riot. Chickens are pretty funny too. Slugs can be funny but only if you give them silly foreign accents. Péquistes are not funny. Some Bloc MPs think they're funny but really, they're just sad.

Dear Ross,

You certainly look handsome in your column photo. MM, Antigonish, NS

Mom, stop! You're embarrassing me!