Give me something thoughtful and I’ll give you something thoughtful in return. Give me dreck and I’ll reply in kind.
I don’t mind thinking. I like to reflect. I enjoy debate and exchange.
My interests are broad, but my knowledge is not deep. I know a little about a lot but only a lot about very little. That can be a dangerous recipe for foot-in-mouth disease and I admit I’ve been tripped up a few times. Once I presumed to give a birthday tribute to a jazz fancier, throwing out references to Chicago nightclubs and New Orleans roots, forgetting that there were two very knowledgeable musicians in the audience. It didn’t go well.
However, give me a topic and I’ll run with it. References and associations keep popping into my head. I’m a great Googler for following up or verifying facts or tracking down my leads. I toss out bread crumbs hoping that someone will pick them up and recognize rye from pumpernickel and appreciate the baker’s skill. Maybe someone will have the same “Eureka Moment” that I had when the light dawned for me. That is the hope.
Writing a piece is like shopping for clothes. It’s a process I don’t particularly like, but once I make up my mind, I’ll go at it furiously, grabbing this and that, regardless of style or even fit. Only later do I consider the appropriateness or suitability of what I brought home. This is the edit function. Somehow, I can only think of the right thing to say long after I should have said it. That’s where writing has a distinct advantage over off-the-cuff speaking. You have time for fit and finish. You can work and rework something before you subject a listener or reader to what you’re getting at. Even after I’ve committed it to paper or post. I’m back at, reviewing every letter and punctuation, phrase and indentation. It takes a long time to get it just right.
I used to be painfully, pathologically shy. Speaking in public was sheer torture spawned by early childhood terrors brought about by my mother’s ambition for a boy-soprano in the family. I was the only son so I was at bat. Years of voice training lead to the competition circuit and subsequent encounters with crippling stage fright. It was a traumatic time. Twenty years on, I found I could express myself in the written word. I’m certain my mother was shattered. The years and a certain greying at the temples led to a degree of respect and growing self-confidence that allowed me to rise to most occasions and mumble a few words. But writing was still my preferred medium of expression.
At first, I dabbled in juvenile, maudlin poetry, (blank verse, no caps, no punctuation, etc.). The topics were juvenile – my naive idea of Romanticism. High school English teachers were encouraging but tolerant. Looking over what I have recently published in my blog, I don’t seem to have progressed much. Then, some time later, when faced with what I considered an existential crisis, I wrote a thinly veiled hint of self-harm (suicide). That got some attention and ultimately, rescued me.
But writing was the key. I could express what I couldn’t say. Pen and paper became my lifeline. And the rest as they say “Is History”.
So please, no dreck. Just substance. I won’t be offended.
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