Looking for a piece born, kicked around, and rejected sometime between May and June of last year, I stumbled across a piece I published on another site. Wandering around the archives, I often get lost that way. There’s not a thumb big enough to hold my place while I explore things unrelated to the object of my search. Things, up to that point I’d forgotten.
I see a shiny object, I have to pick it up and give it a good look. You’ve done the same. Thinking just now, why didn’t this receive better press? Does it need rework?
This one didn’t get good press because I clearly announced to my “peers” it was a less-than subtle reminder to spend more energy prior to “publishing” on the site. Save “Streams of Consciousness,” that old site was not a blog. Even then, not an excuse. As bloggers, we tend to (we shouldn’t) pay less attention to flicking-off bits of dust, polishing murky spots, and insuring accurate perspective. Some there on that site probably took it personally (some should have, it was intended that way) and then took offense. It wasn’t the first time I’d chastised my peers – a task I always undertake with a healthy dose of self-deprecation.
Here’s the piece. Unedited. What do you think?
Write like it’s important, like it matters. It is, and it does.
Write like someone depends on you, they crave your words. They do, they might.
Edit like there’s no tomorrow. There’s not.
Edit like it doesn’t hurt. Expect it to.
Revise like you erred. You did. Fix it.
Revise for the precise word. It exists. Find it.
Read aloud like a love song to yourself. It should be.
Read with meaning. If there is none, ask why?
Listen to what you wrote. More with heart than ears.
Listen to the words’ music. Melodies of color, texture, and emotion.
Wait, if it’s not ready, for it to mature. It will. So will you.
Wait on beginning and ending suns. They herald new passions.
Watch your audience. Their eyes will say more than their mouths.
Watch for a reader’s hesitance. Seen, you missed the mark.
Explain only if asked. You might be, but don’t expect it.
Explain when asked, only what you said. Not what it means.
Apologize only for punctuation. But try; commas are seldom fatal.
Apologize otherwise for nothing. It’s your soul and your truth.
Tolerate failure. It foreshadows success.
Tolerate imperfection. It is an itch to scratch.
Trash the whole epic. Often that’s noble.
Trash self-doubt. If you have no faith, no one does.
Let your characters talk to you. They will write your story.
Let your story embrace your moral. All three of you will be stronger.
I often ignore these reminders. It shows.
© SPWilcen 2020 on Prose 7/2/2020
The key there was the word ‘fatal.’ I went there recalling an old rip of something attributed to Robert Fulghum: “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.”
Which goes back to Alexander Wm Kinglake and beyond.
What I sought was in another folder, “Scratchpad,” much like my recently purged WordPress “Pending” folder. Moldering in a section entitled “Non sequitur” under the heading, “On Second Thought.”
So I offer from my notes of May 2020 something I believe has stronger impact:
Sticks and stones may break some bones, but words is always fatal.
There were several other unmounted gems there with “sticks and stones.” For example:
Bubba Chester was fond of saying,
“You can fool some folks all the time, but you can’t fool all the folks none of the time, accounta some them summiches is onto ya every time.”
I strongly suspect Bubba might have attributed that to Jacques Abadie in a smoother form circa 1684, but in so doing, his statement would lose some of its piquancy. A staunch Democrat, Bubba certainly wouldn’t, as many do, credit Abe Lincoln.
I realize the thread runs thin in “all the folks none of the time.” Maybe shoulda been “all the folks much of the time.” If you agree, don’t fault me. Take it up with Bubba.