Less is more. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever ‘get’ that succinct bit of wisdom. Since I was a child I have been teased for giving l-o-n-g responses to simple questions. As a girl it was especially apparent when I was asked about a book or a movie. I had to tell the entire plot line, including details about the setting, the clothes and movements of the characters and so on. I guess maybe that was annoying, but it was the only way I could answer.
As an adult, my friends generally come to understand that if I am telling a story, there is usually a lot of background detail that I feel is necessary. For the most part, they put up with my habit, with only some mild ribbing. I don’t know if they sometimes choose not to ask me a question, knowing that it will take a while for me to answer. My lovely daughter has been much more forthright about her reaction to my long-winded proclivity. Since she was quite young she would, and still does, interrupt my soliloquies with complaints and eye rolls.
I may be wrong, (fooling myself) but I think that this tendency to be thorough with descriptions and in my explanations is not a bad thing as a writer. Or to say that another way, I notice things, take note of details that others may overlook and carefully using those specifics when writing is a strength. Granted, I am talking about an unedited first draft. My writing, like most writing needs to be edited so that each word is necessary and that involves removing some text. (One pleasant aspect of writing a blog post is that I don’t worry much about editing or distilling the language to its essentials. Tee hee.) So, I’m back to less is more.
Now a few words (too funny!) about daily communication. I like talking to people face to face. That is my preferred method. I have always enjoyed the now fading activity called writing personal notes or letters. As we have sorted through the accumulated possessions of my parents these last few years, we have discovered a good many saved letters, spanning their own lifetimes and those of their parents. I’ve read a few and learned things that I would never have known and that has been sweet. I’ve also looked at a few that I wish that I had never opened… There’s no need to know some of that information. However, I think about future generations who will not have old letters to open, to learn about their parent’s and grandparent’s lives. Will they look through old emails?
Less is more. That was a tangent, but it does loop back to daily interpersonal communication. As I was saying, I prefer face to face or hand written letters, sent through the ailing postal system. I’ve never been a fan of the telephone for lengthy conversations. Holding the receiver is uncomfortable, for one thing and I can’t say that cell phones have improved upon that awkwardness. Use a headset, you might say. I tried that at one point, in the pre-Bluetooth world, back when the equipment clumsy. And nowadays, its just too weird watching people talking to themselves everywhere.
All of this is to say, the phone is a miracle and I appreciate its efficiency as well as caller ID and voice mail, but I had issues with it. Sometimes calls came when I wasn’t able or in the mood to talk. Sometimes a call went on too long and I would get antsy. So, when email arrived in my life, I was a rapid convert. Write whenever you want, answer when you can, even late at night, it all seemed like a blessing. Of course misinterpretations of tone are a consistent problem with emails, as I have repeatedly learned to my discomfort.
And then came texts; ah, even easier than email, because I always have my phone with me, right? Well, yes and no. First of all, I know that people send emails from their phones, but I haven’t and don’t plan to start. Famous last words?
Issues with texts: they require a lot of finger dexterity, they can be misinterpreted as easily & badly as an email and the smart little phone is always changing words I want to send to words it wants to use. That behavior is sometimes funny, but more often a pain. So, I love the ease of texting, but it definitely conflicts with my wordiness habit. I always want to answer in depth, at moderate (not great) length, and that actually does not serve me well.
So, as regards texts, my motto is and needs to be: Less is More.