Blogs » Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: News from Lake Wobegon

Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: News from Lake Wobegon

  • “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, my home town, out there on the edge of the prairie…”

    So began Garrison Keillor with his famous “News from Lake Wobegon,” a folksy dialogue he’s been sharing every week for 41 years. Tuesday night he brought the “edge of the prairie” and his famous Prairie Home Companion radio show to Salt Lake City.

    Garrison Keillor first entered my life 26 years ago. His folk singing touched my soul, his humor made me laugh, and his storytelling inspired my own storytelling desires. Long before radio was my career, storytelling was part of my life.

    I marveled at the ease which Keillor could spin a yarn. Stories of people and places, real and imaginary, seemed to naturally flow forth without resistance or hesitation. Yet, I knew enough to know telling a story was going to be anything but simple.

    Garrison shared some of his inspiration and strategies for writing great stories. In a 2009 interview:

    I just realized when I came to New York that what I had to write about was where I’m from and the people that I grew up with. And I think that’s true with most people. But it’s a difficult step to take, because, we become writers because we want to escape from that of course. And we want to get away from those benighted people. But in the end, I think the first and strongest stories you have to tell are stories that happened to you before you were 12 years old, and then you go on from there…

    I don’t think that one should sit and look at a blank page. The way around it is to walk around with scrap paper and to take notes, and simply to take notes on the observable world around you. If you walk into this room and see these great columns and think this was once a savings bank, you could put those two things together, and make some notes here – that would be the start of something.

    I think everything – everything – starts with the observable world, and even though you may cut that out of your final go, nonetheless I think this is where it always starts, and with overheard conversations. There are a lot of conversations here that could be overheard, and you’re probably more likely to get them in the back of the room.

    And in a 2014 interview:

    I’m still trying to figure it out. I thought I knew when I was in college. I thought that I was a genius, a troubled genius. And then I launched into it on the radio, and discovered that I didn’t know very much at all. I thought that I was going to become a great artist and tell disturbing stories. People didn’t go for that. They preferred funny, and if not funny, then at least cheerful. I was forced to resort to telling stories about my childhood and the town I grew up in where people also believed in cheerfulness as a primary virtue.

    Such inspiration has been a driving force behind my own storytelling. Stories from my own life, and my own observations of life, are ones I hope strike a chord of a familiarity and occasionally a little bit of hope.


    Dusty and Lefty in the Lives of the Cowboys quickly became one of my favorite segments.

    “A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the 12th floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions — Guy Noir, Private Eye.”

    “That’s the news from Lake Wobegon... Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

    Have a great Monday!  Thanks for letting me share.

    Les Patterson

    p.s. Take 15 minutes today to enjoy a little bit of Prairie Home Companion by clicking on any picture above.

    Les Patterson loves to share stories and the “Monday Morning Boost” is his way of sharing a story or two with family, friends, and clients. Les believes every person, business and organization has a story worth sharing. Since 1997 he has enjoyed finding compelling ways to share those stories through writing and producing radio commercials at the Cache Valley Media Group. Discover how he can help tell your story at Feedback and comments are welcome at ©2015, Les Patterson. All Rights Reserved. To UNSUBSCRIBE, reply to this email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line and your email will be removed.