It’s A Good Day When . . .

Dog, but I’m tired.

The beginning of the semester is a funny time. I love it, but it flat wears me out.

I’m not really sure just how to put into words how much I love my job. I’ve often said that I can’t believe I get paid for this. I’ve said that I would do it even if I didn’t get paid (but please don’t tell the president). I’ve said it’s my calling, my passion, and just about better than a Stuffed Pork Chop with a side of cheese grits, purple-hulled peas and bread pudding from Tim’s Cajun Kitchen.

I love teaching. Having the opportunity to help people learn to love writing or to think critically about something they’ve never considered before is, easily, the greatest job I can possibly imagine.

I’m not kidding.

And the beginning of the semester is the best. All these long faces walk dejectedly into the room, dreading the next 16 weeks cause they didn’t know they would have to take a writing class! Then I’m just on looking for a way to resurrect the love of language in my students. (Being on is really hard for an off-the-scale introvert like me. That’s why I’m so tired right now.)

Cause you see, I love writing. Finding a way to put these disparate thoughts down on the page (or web, in this case) beats away the exhaustion that being on causes.

It’s like that feeling of the first cool breeze of fall when you’re out cutting the grass for what you hope is the final time of the summer.

It’s like waking in the middle of the night feeling like you’ve slept for years, and you notice you still have five hours before you have to get up.

It’s like hearing your boy say, “I love yooooooou” for the first time.

Writing brings clarity to love, to life, to light.

And it’s a light that must, absolutely must, be shared.

As Bill Wheeler says, “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” And dear god if there’s one thing we need more of in this world it is the light of clear thinking that’s right out there in the open for all to see.

It’s a good day when I can share that with just one other person. It’s a great one when I can share it with a hundred.

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. Keep working at it, Russell. I don’t think I’ve told you before but even as an engineer I’ve always appreciated the art of writing. I look back at letters written by folks a century ago and am amazed at the complexity of their sentences. I really believe people, even the regular Joe, wrote better back then versus today. Even before the advent of e-mail and texting, we started down a course of dumbing down our communication. Our sentences have gotten shorter and shorter as we attempt to communicate with as few words as possible. I’ve been amazed when looking at the writing of engineering graduates, fresh out of college, who in all seriousness turn in papers for other people to review that are full of errors any high-school student should catch. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to find even half of the run-on sentences I’ve seen and it’s obvious that people love to write in first-person, even on technical papers. Some papers are so poor that you have to seriously wonder whether the submission was a joke or not. I keep checking the calendar to see if it’s April!

    I would have thought that engineers in particular might be better at understanding the concept of “beginning…middle…end” and organization of sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into sections, and sections into chapters. After all, we have to structure our code and our schematics in a similar way. There is an order, an organization, to what we do. Nevertheless, this seems to be a skill few engineers can apply to the written word.

    Anyways, I shouldn’t be too critical since I know my own writing needs improvement. I tend to use commas too much and my spelling is atrocious, but I do review, review, and review. And, I’m constantly using every opportunity I have to write! There’s nothing that can substitute for peer review by another writer or an editor and that’s why I love contributing to outlets like this blog or the magazines I’ve written for.

    We need more people who can write coherent sentences or our communication might one day degrade to “k^tgwR” (translation: Keep up the good work, Russell!”).

    1. Thanks, David!

      If you think you’ve seen some poor writing, I’ve got a few I could share! 🙂 You’re right. The key to good writing is review (or revision, as I tend to talk about it).

      Getting someone else to read your stuff is key as well.

      Thanks for reading, David. You k^tgw2. (How Orwellian!)

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