Elements of style…


A couple of astute readers have offered “helpful” critiques of my writing style over the past few weeks – a thinly veiled effort to urge me to abandon my short paragraph/fluffy content approach – in favor of something more meaningful.  I do appreciate their comments but as an old dog, it’s hard to adapt to new tricks.

If I could gravitate to, say, the Hemingway style or Twain style or the fluid wording of some other noted author, believe me, I would.  But I can’t.  How I go about things is the partner I brought to the dance and after all this time it’s no time to bail on the old girl.  I wouldn’t wish my style on anyone.  For better or worse it is mine and mine alone.

The fact of the matter is style cannot be forced.  It emerges of its own volition.  It cannot be adapted ala the reference to Hemingway and Twain.  If you do anything enough you begin to develop a pattern.  So it is with art and sports and cooking and your choice of wardrobe – and with writing, too.  The more you write, the more you find your sense of prose and pace and wording and sentence length.  None of it can be dictated.  It is found.  With enough practice, your internal locator will help you put a finger on your personal sense of style.

Here is today’s letter to mom and dad.  Nothing earthshaking.  Just another link in the chain.

April 2, 2010

Mom and Dad: Traffic was incredibly light on the way in this morning.  My parking lot was anything but; there are virtually no cars in it but mine.  The lights were off on my floor which is a signal that everyone – except me, of course – is out on break.  Already, my emails this morning have been greeted by several “Out of Office” automatic replies.  I’m really great at reading between the lines.  Everyone is gone but me.

Well, Reid has scored a ticket to the Final Four – along with Tim – in Indianapolis and the plan is for Tim to drive from the Twin Cities today to pick Reid up in Chicago and on they go.  They are really wound up about Butler making it.  If I was an alumnus, I’d go, too.   But one would think that little ditz would call his dad to crow about getting a seat (Ellen thinks they paid about $300 per) but no, he’s been mum about it.  He promised me he would do a better job of staying in touch but it’s a vow he’s already broken.  That’s okay.  He’s just a kid.  He contacts me when he wants to.  As for the NCAA pool managed by your other son, I have finished in absolute dead last.  Dead last.  It’s as if I used the pairings sheet from last year, that’s how bad my picks were.

Yesterday was our first day above 80F and it felt good to walk out into the sunshine and warmth after a day in the office.  You can almost hear the leaves popping out in the trees.  My more immediate concern is that the dormant Bermuda no longer remains dormant.  I want it green and I want it right now.  There will be golf tomorrow but nothing on Easter Sunday.

Ellen continues to upgrade her home with new rugs and carpets and lamps and such.  She texted me a photo of her new living room rug, and I told her in a short call last night that it looked lovely although in truth the image on my phone was so small I couldn’t see anything.  I’m sure it’s pretty.  Lots of her friends are in baby-mode these days and she and I talked while she was driving to see yet another new born.  I asked her straight out if baby-dom was in her near future and she said no.  She said they aren’t close to that, but sometimes those promises don’t hold water.  My guess is that they will conceive when the house has been adequately upgraded.  She let on that Tim is looking for a new engineering job as his long hours and meager response from management is not very good.  The guessing here is that he will return to 3M if they will have him.  His resume is very good and he’s a good kid willing to work hard.

They are still on to visit you guys the second weekend in May which will be here before you know it.  Be ready for boys who can eat.

My budding little garden is still that; little.  Hope to plop a tomato plant in a big pot sometime this weekend.  Herbs, too.  The Master Tomato grower in the neighborhood still has not put his in the ground, and he is my barometer of tomato success.

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