During last few months, communication patterns have sometimes assumed different shapes and patterns. The primary reason?
At some points, I haven’t conversed face-to-face with others as regularly as usual, because I’ve been writing—not for this blog, but for print. On the other hand, I had some magnificent re-connecting conversations in Nashville in March. Just the week before that, there was a really wonderful conversation with an old friend who lives nearby. Other heartful conversations with another friend have dealt with some rather severe situations and the pains of this life. Not all conversations are easy, treasurable, or even helpful, and some are downright impossible.
When a relational difficulty might be arising or is already staring one in the face, the common wisdom says we should talk, not write. Talking is not always better, though. Consider this, from the 1980s notepad of John M. Davis:
I know you believe you understand what you
think I said, but I am not sure you realize
that what you heard is not what I meant . . .
so write it.
Depending on the matter at hand and the parties thereto, it may actually be better to write. Assuming the people have reasonable writing and perceptive capabilities, there is more time for refining a written message—and then, for reflection on it. Writing may not be the best idea when one or both parties are angry, but even then, it can be better (for some of us) to write first. We can work through a draft or three before sending, or even decide not to send the message at all. You can probably think of situations that confirm this truth, just as I can. In the case I’m thinking of now, a conversation had gone mildly badly, and the dynamic needed to be changed so the two of us didn’t get into another more-heat-than-light situation. My writing gave me more time, and he responded perfectly. (Face-to-face conversations are often well advised as follow-ups to written communication.)
Processing time is good for us melancholy thinker-writer. We get to process and re-process thoughts and words. In my case, writing requires drafting, editing, revising, printing, editing, and rewriting (and becoming displeased, and rewriting again). I use electronic forms and printed forms of drafts in various phases. Even simple, relatively brief written material (such as substantive e-mail) can call a person like me to consider and draft multiple versions. In the case of the writing of books, one can imagine that the draftings and considerations and processes are more daunting and exhausting.
I have frequently been embarrassed by flat-out errors in my blogposts and have retreated to points years in the past in order to correct said errors even though it’s unlikely that many readers will ever find the corrected version. Just today, while refining this piece, I also spent an hour correcting several embarrassing errors in a book I’d considered finalized. I can only hope that my mental and spiritual (and manual—oh, the stress on my hands!) processes will result in something worthwhile.
More on the writing of books in the next post. . . .
B. Casey, Feb 7 – May 27, 2016