Pen To Paper


In fourth grade, I was the kid that liked doing book reports. I went on to be the boy in high school that edited the school newspaper and wrote short fiction in between classes and past my bedtime. Later, I became a college student that kept spiraling-bound journals. It’s in my blood, writing, and putting pen to paper was the gateway. Once I learned the skill, honoring the language and its rules aligned nicely. If this were going to be my trade, I had better master it.


Someone once asked my mother, “Why is your son getting a Masters in writing? Don’t they like, to learn that in elementary school? ” True, a Master’s in writing doesn’t lend well to surgery or quantum physics—it merely qualifies you to write a short story or a poem. It has, however, taught me to keep honoring both the craft and the language. Let’s face it: writing is approaching its twilight. We must keep written correspondence with three main points now. Get in, get out. One hundred and forty characters or less. But the most important character—the writer himself—must remain. Inflection, personality, and punctuation are still important. It’s the only way our written tradition, in its current form, will survive. In a recent business meeting I attended, a communications coach praised what emojis have done for language. I cry foul! The last thing we need is more erosion of the magic we currently possess with our ability to write.


My sons are so funny, but sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), they mess with me. I hologram them a message of my wife and I sitting on the couch, tapping our writ—no words—just body language trying to tell them to get home, that it’s movie immersion night, that, if they want to continue with the series we’re experiencing together, the one about the oxygen pirates of Mars, that they better get home and logged in. But what do they do? They send back a one-icon reply—an avatarmoji holding up its hands, shrugging its shoulders. The graphic goes sailing around all of our screens, on our mobiles, and through our VR viewers. My wife grabs my arm, pats me, and says, “Wait for it.” Less than a minute later, the boys send another message: a clock face with the minute hand on the nine. Fifteen minutes. They’ll be home. I sit back, relax, and turn to a few talk shows on my headset to pass the time.