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This past week at work was particularly challenging. I enjoy my job but the expression, "too much of a good thing, " comes to mind. I had to do a bunch of writing. I will not bore you with the details but suffice it to say, it was of a "professional" nature. It also required a degree of attention to detail that required (ahem) multiple re-writes of certain documents. Less anyone think this is a post about self-pity, it is not. I recognize that I am quite fortunate to have the job I have, work with great people, do work I find meaningful and overall am very satisfied. Now with that being said, I was extraordinarily glad when (let's call it the project) was completed. I've got a stack of paper to shred. It's amazing how you can proof-read (or think you're proof-reading) a doc and still find typos. It got to the point where as the deadline was approaching, I was reading out-loud in my office. It probably sounded dumb to my colleagues, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
It got done and this was a team effort. Thanks to my colleagues and bosses we got everything done and at the end of the day, it was a good news story. I did mutter under my breath (more than once) that I was looking forward to writing a blog post this weekend, free of the tyranny of the perfect written work-product.
In retrospect, there was no tyranny involved, just an important, detailed-oriented, un-glamorous project with a deadline. After all, that's why they call it work, right? I recognized a couple of things: First, my eyes are starting to go. As much as I knew the day was coming for reading glasses, I'd hope it would be a while. Even now as I type this, I have to look away from the screen for a moment. Twelve point font ain't what it used to be.
The other thing is that, simply put, I never mastered grammar the way I should. I recall how I despised the "stupid" rules of sentence structure. How I cursed the way words were spelled and (i before e, says WHO!) and why is there even a colon or semi-colon? Well, revenge came this past week. Had I actually paid attention in class and learned this stuff, I might have actually gotten home at a descent hour Thursday night.
There are different kinds of writing. I suppose one way to look at it is this: Some writing you get paid for and others are for fun or at least amateur endeavor. (And this blog, if anything, is an amateur endevor.) Still, writing is something that I respect. I am convinced that the power of the written and spoken word matter. As I type this, I suspect there are writers from Kiev to the Crimea who are aiding the cause through their words. That may be no match for tanks. Then again, look at what happened in Egypt thanks to the internet and 140 characters. Yeah, words matters.
I did a Google search on this topic: the responsibility to write well, and learned about Hannah Birss.
Hannah Birss is one of countless aspiring writers out there. She (cliche alert) wise beyond her years. Here are a couple of her gems: "Ignoring one of your weaknesses does not make the weakness go away." Here's another one, "There are a lot of reasons why you might not be able to write, but I will bet that ninety percent of them are based around you. Blaming others does not one any good. If you can accept your successes, you need to be able to accept your failures as well. "
So I acknowledge that I was wrong to blow off junior high English. All the spell-checkers in the world cannot change the fact that some things need to be learned. If not, then it's re-write city and reading out loud in your office. Lesson learned, better late than never.
Be well my friends,