Last week I received a lovely comment from reader Lady Di on my Lost Love and the Art of Editing post. Work and family obligations ate up my time that day, and I wasn’t able to reply to it then, but today I want rectify that situation with this post. Why take up a whole post replying to one comment? Two reasons.
First, Lady Di offhandedly brought up one of my favourite pet peeves: the difference between English and American spellings. Because, really, what is the deal with that? Do we really need to spell words differently over here in America? Is it some kind of linguistic chest beating over the fact that we won the revolutionary war? Because if it is, I have news for my fellow Americans. Linguistic chest beating is the worst kind of chest beating ever.
It woudn’t be so bad if our spellings were better, but they’re not. There is a tiny part of me that dies when I see the word “harbour” spelled “harbor.” Was it really necessary for us to kill off that poor little innocent “u”? What did it ever do to us?
But second, and more importantly, Lady Di mentioned that she reads my blog even though she’s not a writer. Why? I’ll let her own words answer that question.
I’m not a writer, but I enjoy your perspective and the observations are applicable across a broad range of endeavours.
This is something I’ve been mulling over in one form or another for a while now, and Lady Di’s comment gave me the perspective I needed to finally condense it down into it’s basic parts.
We writers tend to think that we’re different from other people, creatures of the aether, magical souls that inhabit the realm of the story where mere mortals dare not tread. Well maybe we don’t all go that far with it, but we do tend to think of ourselves as different. Only we’re not as unique as we like to think.
The truth is this: the keys to good writing are basically the same as the keys to good living. The “advice” I give on this blog is aimed at writers, but for the most part almost anyone can put it into practice in their everyday lives. Work hard; don’t let your feelings stop you from doing what you need to do; practice practice practice; make your passion your habit; strengthen the places where you’re the weakest; good things take time to grow. These are the kinds of things I talk about on a daily basis, and they’re not just good for writers. I don’t care if your life’s calling is to be a plumber these same principles are going to help you excel.
Now please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the process of transforming myself into a self-help guru, but I do think it’s important that we realize that at some core level we writers are not so different from from the rest of the world. If we want to succeed we’re going to have to do what everyone else does to succeed. We’re going to have to work hard and study and be willing to learn.
And who knows? Maybe we could learn as much about achieving our dreams from a plumber as a plumber could learn from us.