Charlotte is right. This is a scary thing to write. Self-deprecation and playing up shortcomings come far too easily, but point out my strengths one-by-one and I not only feel I’m going to be labeled a braggart, I leave myself open to being shown examples to the contrary that just might be sprinkled throughout this blog. Oh well. Good excuse for you to look through it, eh?
1. I can spell. I don’t just spot mistakes in newspapers and novels, if a word is spelled incorrectly it will leap off the page and shake me by the throat. Thank-you, Mrs. Fairburn. Who was Mrs. Fairburn? My Grade One teacher, 1966 – 67. She taught us phonics, one of the last primary school teachers of her generation to do so before it became unfashionable. Can’t spell a word? Sound it out. Doesn’t follow the rule? Learn the exception. They say wordpress.com has a spell-checker, but I’ve never bothered to use it because to me words have to feel as well as look right. Somehow this skill has spilled over to French and German, the two other languages I have learned to speak and write fluently. (Charlotte, I am NOT used to this. Can’t I put in something negative to even things out?)
2. I used to report for a newspaper for nearly no money while doing the job of three people. I quickly learned that no matter how much work they gave me, I always had enough time to write what I wanted to. The tighter the deadline, the better the piece. I learned to love writing under pressure and some of my best clippings came when I was told an hour before press time that it was my turn to do the editorial. Knowing there was beer and poutine after the post-mortem helped.
3. The flip side is that unless I’m told I have an incurable disease and will be breakfast for worms within an exact amount of time, I will never even attempt to write either of the two novels rattling around my skull. Hey, something negative. I knew I could slip that in.
4. My writing is clear, lean, down-to-earth and to the point. Maybe it comes from writing for radio and television, but I’ve learned to write what I want to say and move on to the next. In broadcasting, the listener has only one chance to catch what you mean. If you’re wordy, vague, use passive voice or flowery adjectives, he’s switching back to JR-Country.
5. I don’t pretend to be a comedian, but if I put my mind to it I can turn anything into a laugh, if not for others then at least for myself. I don’t sit there and admire a piece for days, but if I start to giggle when I go over something I’ve just written, then I’ve succeeded in doing with my writing what a pianist does at his keyboard with no-one else to hear. Enjoy. Why do anything you like to do, if not for that?
© 2007 lettershometoyou