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Last night after dinner, my ten year old son Felix said, "Well, it's time to do the dreaded paragraph. Be ready to stay up late."
"Seriously?" I said. "You can't write a paragraph in less then two HOURS?"
My son is incredibly smart and talented at so many things. The fact that writing completely stops him in his tracks makes this writer sad. Writing is thinking and I know he can think--quite well in fact. Usually when he has an assignment like this, he moans and screams while he is completing it. Literally.
"Why me?!" he will yell from the kitchen counter.
Sometimes the yelling is so bad, I demand he remove himself to the front room where a desk waits for him. He prefers to be near me.
"If I'm near you, your writing talent might rub off on me," he says. I smile.
Last night after dinner, I tried a new tactic.
"Okay Felix, I type--you talk."
He started talking and I started typing. I'm fast. I worked at United Way for 14 years. They have a lot of meetings at United Way and each one requires meeting minutes. I know how to get the job done.
After talking for a full minute and hopping around the kitchen as he spoke, he slid over behind me. "What are you writing?"
"I'm writing what you are saying, exactly as you are saying it."
"Is that okay?" he asked.
"Yes, you are very articulate. It sounds great."
"What does articulate mean?"
"You say it clearly. You say exactly what you mean and it makes sense."
"And...you're just writing it? You aren't making it sound perfect?"
"Nope. I'm just writing what you are saying. Let me read it back to you."
So I did and he couldn't argue with me because I wrote just what he said and it sounded good.
"I had no idea that writing was just talking," he said.
"Well, it's not just talking, you have to think about what you are going to say too."