The man sitting across from me on the train this morning was obviously a writer. He pulled out his notebook and scribbled in fits and starts, breaking only to stare intently at the people squeezed in around us. After an hour of watching him watching others, and surreptitiously admiring his collection of observations and sketchy drawings, I asked him, “what are you writing this morning?”
You know what he said? Eyes wide in terror or arrogance, I couldn’t tell, he said, “Oh, I’m just a PA [personal assistant] and… uh… forgot my laptop and so I’m writing lists.” Bollocks!
What inspired him to lie? The jig was up but he clung to his stealth.
He wasn’t the shy sort, so perhaps he wanted to avoid liability because his scathing observations will appear in a blog post or book. Maybe he was cooking something to rival the women who eat on tubes fiasco? Ha!
His behavior begs the question, would you admit to being a writer? Is it something you positively identify with or try to bury beneath your other assets?
Whatever his reasons, he was no writing ninja. And I’m a bastard for reading his work. 😉
I met someone the other week who writes f*cking brilliant emails. Consistently. I’m awed by such people. The delicate balance between coercive and charming often eludes me, and I come across as either too pushy or too passive (my attempt at softening). How do you approach the art of the email? As I try to finesse my style, I’m absorbing a diversity of approaches.
My typical email experience includes emotionally charged bashing at the keyboard for a bramble of a first draft, followed by a vigorous slashing of emotionally charged terms, and a generous splashing of positivity (without seeming insanely optimistic). Then there’s the beastly issue of the emoticon. To 🙂 or 😉 is the question. And f*ck me if I ever know the answer. In some contexts they seem damn near necessary to point out playful tone or to emphasize that I am indeed smiling despite forceful prose. But then there’s the voice telling me that they’re bloody cringeworthy and better left to adolescent sexting on kik.
Don’t even get me started on subject lines. I’ve probably lost days of my life writing and rewriting subject lines to compel the reader to open my message without coming across as alarmist, curt, or excessively wordy — apparently more than 50 characters and you’ve written yourself off!
Searching the interwebs for advice on crafting effective emails is variably useful. “Thanks, I do own a dictionary and have one at hand, and yes, I’ve spelled the person’s name correctly.” I’ve mastered the basics and am looking for the deeper secrets to ensure my readers feel valued whilst I come across as breezy (if you knew it had taken me 10 minutes to write and obsess over these three sentences, I would lose my cool factor).
Until I’ve mastered the art of the email…
when something’s really important, I just pick up the damn phone.
This new project is stretching me in ways I’d never imagined. It’s terrifying and wonderful and overwhelming.
I can feel my brain adjusting neural pathways as its pushed to produce strange connections at faster speeds. There’s a soreness in my soul as its pulled in different directions, increasing my flexibility and resilience.
This is what growth feels like.
It’s not the warm and fuzzy expansion that self-help sites praise, as though we’re cocooned in soft silk before metamorphosis and gentle fluttery emergence.
No, this is the systematic breaking down of the very fabric of my being, as life hurriedly reforms me with the finesse of a toddler reshaping a cracking lump of Play-Doh. The older I get, the more cracks accrue and the more pieces fall away, but I’m still changing. And therein lies the beauty of this messy business.
My change is eternal. My atoms will reassemble after death and continue their shapeshifting until the end of time. Perhaps our experience of change is the closest we get to immortality.
“If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value.” — unknown
I get on the train at sunrise, and get on again at sunset. But the fickle pen will find time to rise again this weekend! Stay tuned
In the meantime, here’s a wonderful quote to inspire you and explain why I’m on a new assignment this month!
“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”
— Robert Tew
I’m fascinated by decay. There’s something about broken people and broken things that I find alluring. Holism suggests that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” (shout out to Aristotle’s Metaphysics). I might be drawn to disintegration because it reveals parts with meaning beyond their whole…
Reminding myself as my patience is tested. It never hurts to be kind, even when frustrated as f*ck. Thanks, Banksy.