Writing is, I think, a three part endeavor.
A huge chunk is inspiration. Researchers know that writers write best when they have an emotional connection to their subject. Then there is affinity. If you identify with the written word, you’re money ahead. The final leg on the tripod is the diligence to refine your skills. Like anything else, the more you work at it, the better you become. Practice, practice, practice.
So it was that as I idled in the coffee shop at the Charlotte airport the other day, a young woman seated next to me was pecking away at her hand-held. Her thumbs would punch a few keys. Moments later an apparent response came in, and she’d then hit a few more keys. The process repeated itself for a few minutes. My eyesight is such that I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) make out her keystrokes. What was she learning? Certainly she wasn’t crafting full sentences or punctuation. Even so, she forced herself to form ideas and thoughts, however cryptic. I wondered, too, how or if she might make the transition to the sort of writing I prescribe because you can’t live by acronyms and partial sentences alone.
She got up and left soon enough, still pecking away as she walked. Her approach was better than nothing, although her ingrained habit may not allow her to stretch her writing wings far enough to move beyond the small screen of her phone.
Here is last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.
September 13, 2010
Ellen/Reid: You cannot believe the itinerary Jane H____________ sent me for this week’s trip to Idaho. It’s almost a work of art. I forgot to bring it to the office but I will photocopy it so you can see the attention to detail. Every bone in that woman’s body is creative. I’ve had to force myself to not look forward to the trip but now am getting somewhat jizzed over it. It will be good to see the guys. I talked to Dave last week and he’s easing back into things. My assumption – and wrong at that – was they pulled up roots and moved to Naples, FL. But they are back in Des Moines. I’ll call you two from the road this week.
Your uncle is dead-set that I will be in Nebraska the week of October 4. Sounds like an Odyssey to me. I’ll make a bee line straight to Grand Island to see your grandmother for a couple of days and then we’ll work around your grandparent’s home in Omaha. Ellen, your idea to stash the fine china at Jane’s place is a good one. Consider it done although I wouldn’t mind the further Odyssey to St. Paul to see you and Mr. T. Reid, if I head up to MN then I would likely stop in Chicago to see you. Most of the tools will be given away to Goodwill although I’ll keep some aside for you and will bring those to Charlotte. I suspect my car will be filled to the gills once I get back home.
Nothing happening on the job front. No interviews. That’s mildly discouraging although from what can be gleaned from the business pages of the newspaper it’s not entirely uncommon. I’m far from giving up, however. Ellen, your comment about the ‘R’ word isn’t too far off. It has some credence to it. In some ways it might be okay to scale back the totality of the work effort, particularly if something hourly could be found. So I may well go down that path although, Reid, I still want to build out the web site for a side – and perhaps full time – PR and media relations business. I still have something to contribute in terms of skills and experience. It’s just hard getting people to take notice. If I did find something hourly, say, at Williams-Sonoma or some place like that, then I could write in the morning and work in the afternoon and early evening. I would be down with that.
To compensate for things I’ve been taking more walks. Therapeutic in every sense. I can blow the steam off, think about things to come, blow off a little more steam and just get in a pretty good workout. Usually its 45 minutes to an hour or a bit more (minimum 2.5 miles and usually 4.25) although last weekend I got carried away on a six miler on a hot day and was really dogging it the last half hour or thereabouts. I’ve learned my lesson.
We have established that there is literally no traffic on South Carolina highway 341 out of Florence toward Charlotte. It cuts straight through backwater portions of South Carolina and in all honesty, in 50+ miles of table-flat road there was only one or two cars seen in either direction the entire way. It connects nothing to even more nothingness. Backwater South Carolina is interesting for no other reason than the housing. Much of it is manufactured. The Harley is the best way to see the countryside especially at 50 miles per hour. If I had hair, the wind would blow through it. Lots of riders in those parts don’t wear helmets but I keep mine on.
Haven’t played golf with my singles group in going on two months now. Every time someone asks me when I’ll come back my response is ‘when I get a job.’ No other way to approach it right now. As much as I miss golf and the group it will just have to be this way for the foreseeable future. My hopes are still high, so I don’t want you two fretting too much about your old man. Things happen for a reason, and when the right thing does happen, you’ll hear me yelling from here.