Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Meant to do That- Grove

I saw a magazine headline the other day, “65 ways to simplify your life”. I don’t know about you, but changing 65 things in order to simplify my life sounds way too complicated for me.
The article went on . . . and on . . . and on.

I wouldn’t have thought much about it except for the fact that there are so many of these goofy (yeah, goofy. 65 ways to simplify? Come on) headlines assaulting me from every grocery checkout, e-mail offer, blogsite, and newspaper.

List articles are popular and easy to write. Pumped full of seemingly good advice they list off things you can, should, ought, would, might do or not do in order to change, add, subtract, multiply or divide something in your life. Look closely three or four articles on the same subject and you will find the same recycled ‘advice’ in each of them.

Faith Today published an article that said churches that put sayings up on their outdoor signs are guilty of ‘drive by shootings’. I guess the guy doesn’t like church signs. But why did Faith Today publish the article? (I asked them that in a letter to the editor, you can read it in the most recent edition of Faith Today under the title “Rolls her eyes”) I suspect they published it because it had an ‘edgy air’, an ‘against the grain’ feel that is so popular these days. But if you look beyond the pallor of “controversial” you will, too often, find little substance. ‘Edgy’ can easily become synonymous with ‘subjective opinion without any supporting evidence’. Worse, it adds noise and confusion to a world that is loud and confused enough.

And it got me thinking; what are we writing these days? And why?

I went looking. Magazines, newspapers, secular and religious periodicals. I came away from that experience (too lengthy to detail in a blog) with a feeling that many writers are writing for the sake of writing; jumping on any bandwagon, pounding any drum, touting any topic in an effort to get their name on a byline; and a paycheque.

So here’s the deal as far as I’m concerned: I’m not about to spit into the wind, I’m not here to stand on Superman’s cape. I’m certainly not here to tell anyone else what they should or should not write about. But I’m sitting myself down and giving myself a good talk: Bonnie, write with substance. Be truly original, jump off bandwagons, avoid pop culture jargon, check your facts, smooth out your logic, and tell more than one side of a story. And, above all, only be goofy on purpose!

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