Saturday, 12 July 2014

I have a rather long letter

in the paper this morning. They like letters to be less than three hundred words. This one ran to four hundred. I wrote it more with the idea that someone I know in the editorial department might use at least some of it. There have been times when I have seen my words used, without acknowledgment in editorials.
It is not polite but it does not particularly bother me because the paper specifically states that submissions might not be used or might be edited etc. If they think that what I have said - or the way I have said it - is good enough for the editorial then so be it. It is actually rather nice to have someone say, "There's a rather good editorial today..." and know that I have been responsible for part of it even if I cannot actually say anything. 
But this time they have published the entire letter without any editing and I know what will happen. There will be people who will comment on the length. (There are a variety of answers to that depending on the person who is commenting.) Some will ask how I manage to get so many letters into the paper. (I write them.) Someone is bound to ask whether I will help them write a letter to the paper. (With very rare exceptions to that the answer is "No.")
And there will be people who comment on the content. Some will agree and some will disagree. Those who do not agree will fail to recognise that I have, very carefully, put both sides of the argument. They will read what they want to read into what I have said. They will make their own headlines in just the same way the media made headlines over what Joanne Harris said - and did not say. No doubt we all do that at times.
And how often do we only read the headlines and think we know what something is about? How often do we not bother to read further or really consider what is actually being said?
Years ago, after we had argued over something, another student and I gave our mutual doctoral supervisor a card. He had it framed and placed it on his desk. It read,
           "I know you think you understood what I said but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."
How often does that happen?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are some days I think I should buy the paper just so I can read your letters!