I was struggling with this week’s blog. I had nothing profound to say. I know! Me with nothing to say???? But then I did something stupid and it hit me…I can write a blog about it! (I have no sense of pride!!) Why not tell the world of my blunder.
I was texting a friend, who just happens to be a previous boss. In other words, I blundered with someone I regard highly. I sent him a text about a fellow colleague and said the simple words, “It would be nice to have him.”
Now, on the surface, those are simple words. Harmless. But as a romance writer…those words connote so much more than what they state. The moment the worlds flew threw cyberspace my embarrassment was upon me. “To have him?” The recipient of my words, my highly regarded boss, may not have understood my apology that soon followed, but any romance reader would totally pick up on my embarrassment. And thus, I soon followed with, “Ummm, what I meant to say is that I would like to see him.”
These few lines of dialogue reminded me to say what I mean! My highly regarded friend probably knew nothing of my angst, but as a writer, I was tormented. Words can be so misunderstood and have far too much meaning if one is not careful. We say things quickly and don’t give much thought as to what it truly means. But when written down, it is there for all to interpret…to slow think.
When writing your first draft you throw it all out there. In the editing process you start to take it back and lay it out methodically. One of my editors said to me, “Make sure you are writing the correct words.” For example, if I say, “He yelled,” that can connote anger. When what I meant to say, “He called out loudly.” Totally different meaning. The first example, my character is angry or mean. The second example he is being respectful and making sure someone hears him. Say what you mean. Not just hint, or hope the reader will understand or see it your way. Readers can interpret a million different ways. But as a writer, it is your job to say what you mean so that your reader understands your intent.
Art is interpretive. But ultimately, the artist has a message that they hope will get through to the viewer. Writing has the same goal. There is ultimately the message that you want to get across. Our gift as the artist is to be able to communicate to the receiver that message as inspiring and creatively as we can. But make sure it is clear!
So, as I reflected on my faux pas, for I had no intention of “having” the gentleman I was referring to…I am reminded that words make a difference. I need to be careful of what I say and what I mean, especially because I am a writer. Not that writers are more noble than the rest. But because it is our job to understand words better and how we use them. Is there room for mistakes? My friend was forgiving, but will my readers be? Labeling myself a writer has made me watchful of what I say and what I want to mean. But it has also made me be a better communicator of my thoughts….and that can’t be a bad thing overall.