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Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017

One-sided conversations

Posted Saturday, December 29, 2012, at 8:35 AM

I read recently that Mark Twain once wrote, "To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement."

All I can say to that is "Amen!"

I'll have to admit, after 18 years of writing a weekly column I sometimes come to a place where words are hard to find, much less put them in a proper sequence so they make sense and are grammatically correct.

Usually, thoughts of certain events or sights or feelings come over me and the words soon flow freely. And I try hard to ensure they go to print in a form where they can be understood.

I guess you could say I try to make what I write feel conversational to the reader. But recently I've been reminded that conversations -- unlike newspaper columns -- take more than one person to be successful.

Recently I have been reading an old book I picked up at the thrift store titled "The Autobiography of Will Rogers." The book was published after his death, and I figured it might be kind of novel to read an autobiography written by a dead man, so I picked it up. Turns out that the entire book is a compilation of Rogers' writings, mostly in column form and taken from the many newspapers he wrote for during his lifetime.

So far, it seems that Rogers wrote mostly about his life, his travels, politics and politicians, and war.

And he was none too shy about the words he chose, especially when it came to politics. He also wrote about shows he had performed in and speeches he had made at various high-level gatherings in New York and other places where people of a certain financial or political stature were wont to gather.

And I suppose his speaking would sound a lot like his writing.

I think maybe a column is, at best, a reflection of the thoughts of the author, thoughts on any number of subjects on any given day. A column is, also (for all intents and purposes) a lecture (or a sermon) put down in the printed word. And it is basically one-sided.

So I've been thinking that I should watch myself a little more closely, that maybe I should try harder not to come like I am lecturing you or preaching to you. To be sure, that has never been my intention.

So next time I see you, let's talk; if there's ample time, let's have a real conversation. And I'll try to keep my yap shut and listen.

I'm sure I'll learn something.

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Bob Stewart is pastor of Union Baptist Church. His long-running column ranges in topic from matters of faith to observations about life in Saline County, politics and the sights to see in travels throughout America.
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