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Forget exercise, it’s time to write

POSTED: May 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

With or without resolutions, this seems to be a good week for reflecting on the past year and giving some thought to the year ahead.

Once again, this year I pull out those old standbys of weight and exercise. One of them needs to go down and the other needs to go up.

But I think I’m going to write more this year.

Not with a computer, but use a pen and paper and write people who have touched or inspired me in one way or another.

I got a bunch of Christmas cards this year. Some were funny, some were inspirational, some were generic and politically correct. I hate those last kind, where people try very hard to not offend anyone by saying offensive words like "Merry Christmas."

Perhaps you shouldn’t send Christmas cards to people who you know are not celebrants of Christmas. If you don’t know, maybe you shouldn’t send them anything.

But I’m not resolving to write more Christmas cards, I think we should write for the kindness of it.

I get about a jillion e-mails a day. Some are from people who want me to write about their product, book or service. Others are from people who want to share something poignant or funny, which I often enjoy.

But there is something about getting real mail, which the technology crowd calls snail mail.

In the center drawer of my desk is a collection of cards, letters and notes from people who have taken the time to pull out a pen and paper and write me. The penmanship ranges from a scrawl to really nice cursive letters. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that someone would invest the time to compile their thoughts the way we learned to do it as children.

On top of that, the sender invested 41 cents to send it to me. Granted, 41 cents doesn’t buy much these days, but it will get a card or letter from one end of this great nation to the other.

I’m guilty of not writing enough. I’ve never had great handwriting. I struggled in first grade with a Husky pencil and a Blue Horse tablet.

The teacher had a gizmo that held three pieces of chalk and she would create lines on the blackboard, just like the tablet. We would always write, "Today is ...." with a little line about the weather.

It took me a little while to stay in the lines, just as it did when I got my first coloring book.

I eventually mastered, or at least reached a satisfactory level, the basics of putting pencil to paper.

I’ve earned a living for most of my life with a bushel basket full of words. I try to learn new ones fairly often. This year, I learned "Apalachicola" the river into which the Chattahoochee flows at the Florida line. I knew it before, I just didn’t write it very much.

I hope that I don’t have to write either Chattahoochee or Apalachicola as much in 2008.

So, I know a few words and a lot of people. I have all the ingredients I need to write more. I’ll pull out a few of my favorite words like "thank you," and "you are important to me." Folks just don’t read those enough.

Write soon.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays in the print edition only and Sundays.



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