For my first ever blog post, rather than muse about the law generally or a specific legal issue, I'm going to talk about writing. Why? Because there's far too much mediocre writing in the world! Sometimes it seems like many people would gladly harken back to the days of "publication" via spoken word and symbols only. Yet humanity has enormous capacity for language, and we live in an age of endless technological options to communicate. Is good writing destined to die the same death as good singing?
Before affordable reproduction of music via records, tapes, CDs, etc., regular folk actually sang to themselves, "whistled while they worked", and gathered eagerly and often to celebrate, mourn or protest in chorus or to simply sing for fun! People weren't always so hesitant to break into a ditty. These days - for most folk - singing has devolved to desperate, cringing attempts to blend in to the obligatory out-of-tune "Happy Birthday", or passive reception of whichever professional or trained vocalist is handed a microphone or pre-recorded for mass consumption. In fact, most of us can sing, since scientists agree only 5% of people are tone deaf. Yet when was the last time you really sang? Similarly, if people stop "sharing" their best writing, they will surely lose the skill and confidence they once possessed. Remember when a teacher applied a red pen to your prose? What would a decent English teacher do to your last email, letter or "message"?
Most lawyers write extensively, and many other professions and trades must still communicate in writing. Yet decent prose is harder and harder to find. Good writing is much more than putting words into sentences and paragraphs. It's an intensely creative, iterative, intellectual process of reading, analyzing, drafting, reviewing, editing and revising. Good writing demands attention to detail, commitment to revisions, and remembering one's audience. Unfortunately, most people today lead intensely busy, distracted and, dare I say, self-absorbed lives. While the problem may be obvious, the solution is less clear.
It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So begins Amanda L. Ireland, Esq. on a crusade to document, promote, and if necessary "resuscitate" good writing. Like those lucky folk who burst into loud yet pleasing song given any opportunity, Ms. Ireland is seizing this pedestal because she can fairly claim the mantle of "good writer": a bookish schoolgirl lavished with teachers' praise and awards, earnest newspaper proofreader then intrepid reporter, survivor of numerous indignities, precision edits and careful characterizations as a government and corporate spin doctor, and recipient of further awards and even judicial praise on her long and winding path to becoming a seasoned civil litigator.
Amanda has a LOT to say about good writing, and plans to "write about writing" here in a periodic blog. To elicit feedback and guide future blogs, please tell us why YOU care about writing, and why you still make the effort to write well.