Jan Losh: In 600 Words or Less…
Wise editor that he is, Alex Miller advised that I keep my columns to no more than 600 words. It’s a challenge for someone like me whose 3rd grade teacher wrote on the closing page of my book report on The Incredible Journey: “Very good, but your reports don’t have to be so long.”
The Ten Commandments are a mere 297 words. And the profound and hauntingly timeless words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address move me every time I read all 269 of them.
Writing something worth saying–and worth reading–within the constraints of 600 words shouldn’t be too difficult. And while I’m giving it my best, readers are giving it their best as well.
Many have responded via email, the Summit Daily’s comment forum and Letters to the Editor with all manner of observations and suggestions. And all are welcome. The fact that people are reading my columns makes me smile. That some are taking the time to respond in any fashion warms my heart because it means something I wrote struck a chord–or a nerve. Either way, as one reader emailed in our ongoing cyber conversation, a good column makes readers think about why they agree or disagree. A good column may cause one to consider a different point of view, perhaps even assault an individual’s status quo. Ultimately the reader reaches a conclusion that in some cases may be a changed way of thinking while in others may affirm a previously held position. Either way, the gray matter, and hopefully the heart as well, have been actively engaged.
One reader asked me to “chime in” on an occasion when I’ve been considered a “liberal loser” (stay tuned!); one indicated my column would have been better if I had quoted C.S. Lewis (an author we both clearly appreciate); some recommend enlightening websites, while others tell me I should check out such commentators as Marcus Borg of Jesus Seminar notoriety (how could they know I have studied his works and even heard him speak in person–such information doesn’t always survive my own editing).
There is no doubt my columns could be better, and I’ll keep working on that. In the meantime, I’m grateful they are being read and are provoking thought, conversation, and conviction.
You see, in every person’s life comes the occasional crisis. Many of us have faced difficult times already, and I’m certain we will all face crises in the future. As multiple authors have penned over the years, character is revealed in a crisis–having been developed prior. When I was a child, my mother shared this thought with me: “What we are to be, we are now becoming.” Indeed, now is the time during which we are building, reinforcing or effacing our characters. Each soul is endowed with the power to make the choices that determine exactly our individual moral fiber. In other words, to draw from an admonishment of the apostle Paul regarding controversial issues, “let each person be fully persuaded in his own mind.” And might I add, may we all have the courage to match our convictions.
And there you have it this week–in 533 words.
Jan Losh is a human resources consultant based in Dillon. Contact her at email@example.com
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