Tag Archive for: writing

How often in a day do you get a text from somebody, especially young somebodies, that you have to decipher? It’s like a paragraph of acronyms. But worse. It’s TextSpeak. Or would that be txt spk? Not only do they not use real words, they see no need for capitalization or punctuation. “hi c u sn bty need $” Where will it stop?

We already know kids aren’t being taught cursive in school. How long before they don’t know how to spell at all? Or write at all? Will there soon be a day when we walk into nursery school and see all the toddlers with iPads (maybe called totPads), learning basic communication with abbreviated words and emojis? Kids already text when they are in the same room with their friends; will oral communication become a thing of the past? Will our larynxes shrivel up as we evolve? I can see it now. In the distant future, giant thumbs on legs are studying archeological remains. They have found the missing link, a race of beings from the 21st Century. Odd creatures these ancients; they have long torsos with a slender apparatus upholding an orb on which are located the eyes, nose and eating orifice. In the apparatus is some bony structure. “wht cud this hav been used 4,” one archeologist texts to another.

This train of thought all began when I ran out to the store to get stationery. I wanted to write a letter to my mother-in-law, but realized I had no dedicated writing paper. All I had was copy paper for the printer and some legal pads yellowing with age. How long had it been since I had actually hand written a letter? Far too long, obviously, as I soon found that stationery had become an endangered commodity. Walmart had notebook paper, but no letter paper. I tried Walgreen’s and was momentarily buoyed when I spotted a sign proclaiming just such a dedicated section. What I found was a selection of envelopes of various sizes, mostly larger padded mailers. An office supply store then, I thought, but found the very same scenario.

A Google search yielded sources of “vintage” letter writing paper. I quickly ordered a supply, wondering what will happen when I follow through on threats of shutting down my Internet and stepping back to simpler times where you go to a store to find things. I can’t depend on grocery sacks to write on; it’s mostly plastic bags these days. I guess I will have to use the backs of junk mail until the postal service becomes obsolete. Then it won’t matter anyway, as there will be no way to send written missives. I will have to get in the car and go visit whoever I want to communicate with. Which isn’t such a bad thing. I only hope they still remember how to use their larynx when I get there.

I didn’t want to wait another minute to write my letter, now that I knew how unsure the writing future had become, so I improvised. I wrote a progressive letter on a series of aging notecards I found in a cubbyhole of my writing desk. OMG!! TTYL

How is it possible to have a dream come true and not even realize it at the time?

I was talking to a library group yesterday about writing and my novel, The Trouble with Grits, when it hit me. Let me explain.

You see, I have always loved words. I learned to talk early and to read early, and I just adored books. Somewhere along the way, I discovered I also loved to write.

In the fourth grade, I wrote a short story and decided it was pretty good and I just knew it deserved to be published. I set about finding a publisher, certain that I was about to become the world’s youngest rich and famous author. I sent my manuscript, handwritten in pencil, to the only publication I could come up with at that tender age, and awaited my coming fortune.

What actually came was my first rejection letter. The Times Picayune very gently and kindly informed me that they were a newspaper and did not publish fiction. Although they wished me well in my writing career, I took it hard. I was not discovered; I was rejected. So, I swore off writing.

After a bit a wallowing in abject misery, something a dramatic artsy-type child revels in, I rallied. You can’t keep a good nine-year-old down, after all.  To make my comeback, I sent a quarter and the back of a Kellogg’s corn flake box off in the mail to get a set of watercolor paints. I would be the world’s youngest rich and famous artist.

Well, that didn’t work out either, so I just accepted my fate as an average kid in elementary school and played Barbie dolls and climbed trees.

I did maintain my love of reading, however. One day, as a young teenager, I was in the Hattiesburg Public Library, where I spent a lot of time, and I looked over and noticed a volume of Mark Twain sitting on the library shelf. A light didn’t shine around it and a chorus of angels did not sing, but that book did somehow stand out. Something rose up in me and I thought, That is what I want. One day, I want a book of mine to be on a library shelf. I wasn’t dreaming about fame and fortune, I just wanted something I wrote to impact someone like Mark Twain’s writing impacted me. I wanted someone to read my writing and laugh, or cry, or smile, or just be provoked to thought.

Now, I was not writing anything at that time, and I didn’t pursue fiction writing for many years. In truth, I completely forgot that moment until I was talking to the group in the library at Mount Olive, Mississippi. As I was getting ready to read from my first novel, I realized that my dream from long ago had come true. I had a book on library shelves. And I hope someone reading it is moved to laugh, or cry, or smile, or think.