Friday, June 14, 2013

A Fly on The Wall, June 14, 2013

Increasing Word Power
by Jim Murchison 

Writing is a funny thing. It is very social if you're sending it out to the world or communicating with a friend. There was a time when it was our only way of communicating with the ones we love that were separated from us. I once had to interview World War I veterans for a piece a friend of mine was pitching to CBC and PBS. The men I spoke with ranged from the age of 98 to 106. While these men were in Europe they would write letters to their loved ones hoping they would find their way across the Atlantic. One even enclosed an engagement ring and a proposal. It made it and when I interviewed him, Dick who was 100, still had his wife of 98 there by his side so it must have been a pretty good letter. He lent me one of only three copies of a journal he had published and edited a journal about the day to day life of the last operating Canadian Cycle Corps of the war. It was pretty powerful reading about the struggles of young men dragging 120 pound bikes through knee deep muck in the Sommes while artillery exploded around them.

Dick and Gladys had died less than 1 month apart

I was very honoured to even hold the journal let alone be entrusted with it. When I called to return it one of Dick's children answered the phone. Dick and Gladys had died less than 1 month apart from each other and the family had no idea I was holding this valuable piece of history and were so glad I had called them to make sure it got back to them. 

Nowadays pen isn’t used as frequently and the vital need for writing is done more often in soundbites and text messaging. Where I work there is a panic when our email goes down about how we are going to communicate about breaks and lunches even though no one is further than 20 metres from each other and there is another old-fashioned method of communication called speech.

Although I am a reasonably good writer I am not good about writing. My mother would probably love letters from me because you can save them and read them. I usually just phone. You also pause and think when you are putting things down on paper whereas sometimes we speak without thinking. There is something therapeutic about sitting down in front of a piece of paper or a keyboard and reflecting on how to phrase something before actually writing it. All the self-help gurus speak of visualizing and putting things down in a journal or writing out goals and looking at them to help us achieve our potential.

So why are we so reticent about doing it? Why do so many of us procrastinate? There are a million stories yet untold in the naked universe of mankind. I will be writing more about this in future Fly’s. Sometimes a simple thought spills out as something much larger than what you thought it would be. That is what has happened to me when I started thinking about the power of writing. So let’s talk about it some more next time. If any of you readers out there have stories about things you have written or read that changed or impacted how you thought or what you believed, feel free to comment as well.

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