A return to “My relationship with writing”
I decided to take this picture before things started melting. The icicle is between four and five feet long.
I mentioned in Part 3 of “My relationship with writing” that I was advised to compress my original draft. I did that. But there were two sections that I cut (one before I even sent a draft for review) that I hated to lose even though they slowed and sidetracked my main points. Rather than let them disappear into the electronic trash on my PC, I offer them here for your entertainment…I hope.
When I was a freshman in college my roommate used to get a letter every week from his parents. I noticed one week that his letter was a carbon copy of a typewritten letter (the younger amongst you may have to Google carbon paper). When I asked him about it he told me that rather than write separate letters to him and his sister, who was attending a different school, they just typed one letter for both. They alternated each week as to who got the original. My impression was, “Just how impersonal can you get?” I don’t know if he felt that way, but I can’t imagine having to share a (not-so-personal) letter with my sibling. Where is the warmth? How busy were his parents that they couldn’t write individual letters? Letter writing has always been important to me.
Writing for the State was a soul killer in one great sense, but it did teach me one lesson that I should have learned long before: Write With Clarity. I find that as I work on (most of) my posts, I try to eschew ambiguity. I want the person to whom I’m writing, to have no doubt as to what I’m saying. Perhaps I even overdue that aspect of writing and, as they might say here in farmland, turn my topic into a wooden post, rather than a cornstalk rattling in the wind. Or maybe that’s just a lot of hot air.
I learned that lesson early on when working at our administrative office. If your product had ambiguity in it, it was given back for a rewrite. If a document with just one unclear clause went out to the field, you could bet your bottom dollar that a covey of mid-level managers, who were searching for reasons to show how smart/concerned they were, would be calling your boss to point it out and ask for clarification; and your boss didn’t want to talk to them any more than you did. So clarity was emphasized.
I also learned in that stint at admin, that nothing went out of our section without something being changed by my boss to put his stamp on it. I figured that out only being there a week or two. I didn’t take it personally, but two of my co-workers may have learned it, but they hated it. I can understand. They took their work seriously, and knew what they were doing. They put his practice down as being misogynistic. He probably was, but he always, with all of his staff, put his stamp on every document.