By Peter B. Giblett
I don’t hear it said much today, but I recall my mother telling me to write to Grandma and start the letter “I am sorry for not writing…”
I loved my grandmother dearly but was never happy to write her letters. For me, it meant my work had to pass my mother’s editorial control. She didn’t mind what we wrote, but before any letter could be sent, my mother would edit it, and we would have to re-write it.
“No big deal” I hear you say. For me it was a big deal, remember that was back in the day before email and the personal computer to use as a shortcut for typos and bad grammar. Writing in that day meant doing it in your neatest handwriting, and to describe my handwriting like chicken scratch is being generous.
My Earliest Editor
Besides legible, I would also be told to use powerful words and correct grammar, but in retrospect, the 9-year old version of me did not really appreciate this advice.
It was not unusual to write that letter 3 or 4 times to get it right. My arm ached at the end of the day. Probably the reason I never became much of a letter writer.
When you have to do it manually, and with handwriting as bad as mine you avoid handwriting anything. I simply wish I had inherited my father’s beautiful calligraphic hand.
Typing and Testing for Typos
I was glad, in 1974, to be introduced to the personal computer (PC), although, it would be at least another ten years before I owned one. But the advent of the PC meant the end to handwriting; I haven’t looked back since.
The other thing that happened at that time was I learned to type. My 6th form college (the equivalent of high school) offered typing classes, so I learned to type. Yet another reason to stop handwriting anything.
Welcome to Blogging
Fellow Two Drops writer Christopher Fox says “I love a blank piece of paper. Or a blank screen. I think of the enormous opportunity it gives me – a place for something new”.
Yes, the blank page screams to be filled; the artist will fill it with colour while the writer does it with words. Noelle Sterne makes the compelling point “whatever your age, however much or little you’ve written, your creativity is unlimited.” We all have a creative streak within us.
The important point about writing is that anyone can do it, we simply need the will and perseverance to succeed. Writing a novel of 80,000 words takes a lot of time and perseverance.
Maybe this is one of the reasons that blogs are so popular. It seems easy to put 500 words down on paper, although my suggestion is if you want to have your blog succeed the pages need to be between 1,500 and 3,000 words long and look at the details.
Sorry – There Was a Mistake
“I am sorry for not writing,” is something I say to my blog occasionally. Words I have physically spoken, said when I realise, I have been too busy with other things to complete that new article. But, I don’t just sit down and hammer out 500 words because I have made a commitment to make my site a centre for excellent content. As a part of that, I believe we writers have a responsibility to expand the horizons of our readers.
There are times I conjure images of my mother and grandmother calling for me to write to them. While I am sorry for not writing, the commitment to high-quality work is overwhelming. While I may write faster when the mood hits, I will not publish fast. It is what I have been training myself to do for years. I see it as more vital today than ever before.
Of course, I make mistakes. Even after editing, I made a massive error last week, publishing a client piece when we should have thought it through.
The client and I learned a lesson; we retracted and removed it. We both felt bad. At every step, we learn a lesson, even if that is not to do something. A rare case of being sorry for writing.
Somebody recently told me they were missing my contributions. Wow! That made me pause and think. This is one type of feedback you love to get. I am sorry, Two Drops of Ink, for not writing more. Yet the reality is I do write every day, I simply find less time for blogging than before. I have said the same to my own blog when I look at it.
Sorry – But I’ve Got a Good Reason
The time crunch will only get worse, I am fully aware of that fact as I take on an educational course later this year. I have already started to read books to prepare in advance.
Is an apology needed? Living in Canada, sorry seems this country’s most popular word. Someone once said don’t apologise for anything. In life that is not strictly true, you need to apologise when late for a meeting. But that is not what I am talking about. You should not apologise for an idea, so instead of saying I am sorry for not writing, that must be turned about…
I am not sorry for writing. It is what I chose to do. Nobody forced me to choose this path in life, I got here through my own doing. The need to do more is ever present. So, to have time to write should always be a pleasure, take that opportunity whenever it appears, yet at the same time, it is essential to get on with the rest of your life. I guess that is my lesson of the day.
Sorry? No, Maybe Bored
Have some writers started to consider writing a chore? Hmm… That can be problematic, and there can be many reasons for this, including boredom and laziness.
Writing for another person can be a chore. They specify what needs to be said and the writer’s role is to fill in the details.
You could say, that is work, albeit dull and boring, but it is the type of work that many people are doing day-in-day-out. Mundane, but the world needs mundane to keep going.
Scott Myers makes the point: “There is the mundane act of writing itself. Sitting. Staring. Typing. Deleting. Typing some more. Staring some more. Swearing. Muttering. Silence. Lots of silence. Typing…”
Getting the words written is sometimes a chore. Some people recommend dictating to your computer, it saves time or having to spell the words correctly.
Dictation might get the words right, but it doesn’t necessarily understand the context or grammar. Commas, full stops, colons, and all those things have to be added.
Stop Saying You’re Sorry and Just Do It
That wasn’t the mundane I was thinking of though. “If you’re a writer, at some point you have likely been faced with the dreary task of having to create content for a dull topic,” said Pixel Productions.
Writing about a dull topic is much tougher and may be why writers say “sorry for not writing,” they are bored doing it. Much more the mundane.
I was thinking about the subject matter that is boring, which dictates how are your writing looks.Back in the day when I used to write mundane business reports, I used to think of one interesting tidbit to enhance what I was writing. That meant they went away with something to think about.
Those mundane elements may make you say, “I am sorry for not writing something more interesting,” but you are a writer, and you will get to it.
Perhaps the mundane gives you the skills necessary to do the exciting at some time. Maybe it gives you the money to live.
Peter B. Giblett is a freelance editor and writer with a background in business and technology management. He is also a non-practicing lawyer.
He’s English born, now living in Canada. He’s an Alumni of City University (London) and University of West London. Entrant and winner of National Novel Writing Month 2015, a novel he is currently editing.
He runs his own blog called GobbledeGoox, which provides thoughts on writing, blogging, words, and wordcraft.
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