Articulation

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creative perspectivesI've caught myself sending quite a few e-mails recently with writing full of trite and meaningless phrases. Most of them are "bread and butter" thank you notes which aren't really intended to be masterpieces of writing, but "I had a great time; let's get together again soon," may be the epitome of lazy writing.

What was great? Why do I want to get together again?

A few moments of critical thought always produce an answer. I pick out a detail of the event and make that the focus of my writing.

Saturday's barbecue was terrific. You are a master of the grill. Thanks for showing me the trick with the spray bottle--very clever! I hope you'll share your recipe for the lamb marinade, too. The combination of garlic and lavender was a delicious surprise. Hope we can get together for another barbecue soon--my place at the end of the month, maybe?

While it's still not prize-winning prose, it's an improvement over the original.

This technique works with holiday postcards, too. I delight in writing them. Give me a sunny beach, a few fruity drinks and a stack of picture postcards and I'll compose the full story of my day, written out in five sentence chunks. Everyone gets a different glimpse into what I'm experiencing and I don't get bored writing the same things over and over.

Dear M,
All the hotels along the beach offer guests sun robes and beach towels. Each hotel has a different color and design (our hotel towels are navy blue with white fish). While most of the guests stick close to the strip of beach near their own hotel, a few brave souls cross the invisible lines to sit on beaches filled with people in other robes. It's seaside integration!
Love, K

Dear J,
We snagged a beach cabana this morning after breakfast and have been enjoying a steady stream of pina coladas and mai tais delivered by a sun-kissed god with a gorgeous smile and no shirt. I'm not sure it's safe to swim when you're tipsy at 11 am, but I will have a careful dip in the ocean to cool myself off and build up an appetite for lunch. What decadence!
Love, K

Sure beats "Having a great time, wish you were here."

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Did someone say postcards? This gives me a good opportunity to find the old postcards, circa 1910-30 which I bought at a farm market last year again, and finally scan/transcribe them. My favourite phrase from them, from memory, "It has been bathing-suit weather today."

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