One Million Lovely Letters

Website – onemillionlovelyletters.com

Every so often, if you are lucky, you come across a simple idea that lifts you out of whatever hole you have managed to dig for yourself that day. This happened to me recently when I heard about the One Million Lovely Letters project.

The backstory of the founder, Jodi Ann Bickley, is heartbreaking, but the result that came from it is heartwarming: to write a letter of support to anyone who needs one. This is such a simple thing, but the effect on those who receive the letters is extraordinary, and it shows the impact of heartfelt words, written in ink and alive on paper.

If you value the written word and believe in the power of human solidarity, then visit Jodi’s site and tell others to do so. The world needs more projects like this, connecting people across continents via well chosen words.

 

The Trouble with Tunnel Vision

I have received a bit of feedback suggesting that what I have written so far in this blog comes across as a bit too serious. Upon honest inspection, I have to agree that it presents me as having a touch of tunnel vision. That would not make me unique in the blogosphere, where many adhere to the philosophical position of, “I think, therefore I rant!”

My problem is that I do not want to be a ranter, and the novel I have written is not a rant, but the nature of some of my blog posts could cause potential readers to regard it as a polemic, and a long one at that. When I started this blog, I wanted it to draw attention to my novel, but without it looking like an advertisement, so I wrote posts about my take on the art of storytelling and the craft of writing, followed by a discussion of the issues contained in my story. However, re-reading my posts in sequence gives the impression that I am focusing on the concerns associated with assisted dying rather than reflecting the way the issue is presented in my novel.

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You cannot see the hazards if you only look at your own next step.

In my previous posts, I have outlined what underpins my perception of the dangers of changing the law on assisted dying, and those who support legalisation might be wary of what seems like a campaign, but my position is not that one-sided. It is the result of an ethical journey in which religious scripture played no part whatsoever.

Those who support the idea of assisted dying often like to label their opponents as religious sheep who are merely bleating in accordance with the text of an old book, but that is too simplistic a view to take about any moral argument. I walked away from religion decades ago, but I do not reject it as worthless; I just prefer to work things out for myself. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I wrote ‘The Sin of Choice’ because it stayed in my mind and refused to be moved, but there is more to it than that. A simple but persistent idea could persuade you to create a blog or engage in online discussions, but is such an idea enough to compel anyone to write a third of a million words?

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The Serial Comma – The smallest thing that can start an argument.

Although there are many small things that can start an argument, the smallest has to be the serial comma. It is not commonly used in British English, with the notable exception of the Oxford University Press and its famous dictionary. On the other side of the Atlantic, it appears to be universally used in American English, but I am unsure of the Canadian stance on the subject. So the British describe the colours of their flag as ‘red, white and blue’, whereas the Americans see theirs as ‘red, white, and blue’.

The writing of a story is a journey for the author. I expected this when I started, and it proved to be true, but not just on the larger scale of storytelling where you have to ask yourself what you should write next. Writing requires self-analysis, so you look at your prose more carefully than a reader ever will. You remove a word from a sentence only to reinsert it, then read the two versions aloud to listen to the difference in cadence before making a final judgment. You deliberate as to whether or not to leave two sentences as separate entities or connect them with a semi-colon. You look at how many dialogue tags you have used, as the overuse of ‘he said’ and ‘she replied’ slows down the pace of the conversation. I did all of this and more as I melded an idea with a blank piece of paper to form a tale, and during the many hours of reading my prose aloud I noticed one particular discrepancy between what I was saying and what was written on the page.

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The Lazy World of the Easy Adjective

After a series of posts about the subject of euthanasia, I think it is time to return to the world of words for a while, so I will start with a small bugbear of mine that illustrates a larger and more troublesome point.

Despite the English language containing more words than any other, there is a growing trend of adjectival indolence in everyday parlance. No longer is scenery described as picturesque and lovely on a small scale, or striking and majestic on a grand scale. All landscapes are now ‘stunning’, from mountains to farmland to garden ponds.

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