Sunday, 12 December 2010

My father had to write a

thankyou note yesterday, or felt the need to. He snaffled a card from the store in the shoebox on top of the bookshelf first.
"I am wondering what to say," he told me. He is an English graduate. He still reads a lot. He also knows he uses "too many words" when he writes something.
"Well write out something first and then read it to me," I suggested. He sat down at the kitchen table and I went on peeling potatoes. I made him a pot of tea as well. He scribbled for a bit.
Then he read it out to me. It was far too long. It would not have fitted into the space available on the card. The language would have been better suited to a maiden aunt in the late 1800's.
I tried to keep a straight face. I bit my lips together. He looked up and then we both burst out laughing.
When he finally managed to speak again he said, "I can't write that sort of thing. What do I say?"
I dictated something short and sensible which I thought sounded like him. He wrote it and went off to deliver it by hand into the relevant letter box.
I finished getting our meal and put it on to cook. All the time I was doing it though I thought of my father's words, "I can't write that sort of thing. What do I say?"
My father can write. For years he wrote something called "patter". Patter is used by conjurers or magicians when they are performing tricks. Patter is used to mislead and misdirect and it uses a great many words for that reason. My father wrote patter for himself, for other magicians and, until they had the confidence to write their own, for his conjuring students. It is a different way of using language. I could not write it. I simply do not know enough about it.
I know I change my writing style. I write this blog one way. I use another style for my professional life. I use another for writing letters to the editor. My creative writing style is different again.
I am not conscious of this when I am writing. It just happens. I still worry about my creative writing style. Has it been too influenced by all the things I have had to write over the years?
I know I need to be flexible.

3 comments:

Australian Satirist said...

Funny story.

Holly said...

I love it. I also have a British/American friend who writes beautiful thank you notes, a skill never learned/lost by most of us.

I put them off, and put them off. And now have to write months later. The apology at least gives me content for more than three lines.

Say hi to your father from me.

catdownunder said...

He says hi in return. He is frustrated - 35'C today - far too hot to be in the shed and he has "things to do"!