Winston Churchill was said to have responded to one who corrected him for ending a sentence with a preposition by saying “that is the sort of criticism up with which I am fed!” He summed up nicely how ludicrous it is to always follow in speech the rules of the King’s English.
I learned the rules of writing the King’s English from the seventh grade through college. In law school, I advanced the understanding of those rules considerably, if not rigidly.
I did not begin writing for amusement and entertainment until over 40 years old. I decided to start writing down some of my thoughts a number of years ago. First, I wrote poetry, then stories of my life.
HERE’S THE real irony for me: I absolutely loathed the reading and writing assignments we had in English in junior high, high school and college. I hated writing in those days. Every writing assignment given to me by Mrs. Wooten, or Mrs. Chastain, or Mrs. Williams, or Mrs. Seago, or Mrs. Irish was a painful experience.
In spite of myself, I must have learned something from them. The poetry I still love most, I learned from them. The prose I love most, I learned from them.
If one wishes to write, one must first read. By reading extensively as an adult, I learned the way writers bring to life their thoughts, how they organize them, and how they make a point. I absorbed from the world of writers and journalists their approach to describing and analyzing events. The reading and writing I did in junior high, high school and college was the basic training for the journey I would take on my own as an adult.
The point of writing is to express thoughts in a way that a reader can absorb and enjoy at the same time. Information can be found in instruction manuals, but people want entertainment with their information when they read.
I WRITE because it’s fun. I write to see what I have to say today. Some days, I’ve got nothing. Some days, I have something. When I start writing, often I do not know where I will end until arriving there. Sometimes, I write part of a column, then put it away — for a day, a week, a year — before returning to it.
As the Steve Martin character told the John Candy character in Trains, Planes & Automobiles, a story should have a point. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It should take the reader or listener on a short journey, and leave them feeling like they’ve had a snack, not a whole meal, just a little something to get one past that mid-morning hunger.
My stories are intended to be a coffee break in a reader’s day. I write because I love to do so. If others like to read it, that’s even better. © 2008, Pappy Moore, All Rights Reserved.
Pappy Moore is a humorist, a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home.
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