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Fred's Views


Stop

I've got to stop doing it. For months now, I've been using a "running-gag" of dropping Microsoft's name into nearly every column I write, whether it was pertinent or not. In one column I actually suggested that Microsoft ought to pay me for all the free publicity I was giving them (Apparently Microsoft knows how few people read my stuff because they have so far declined to make any payments).

And then I went and wrote a column about Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel where I kept repeating the title Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel and then, at the end, suggested Scott Adams (the author of Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel) ought to pay me for repeating the title so often. I've got to stop making these obvious and unseemly appeals for money.

And while I'm at it, I ought to stop this running-gag of repeating Microsoft or Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel. It's going to stop being funny soon. (I have my own gauge of what's funny or not. I figure if it still makes me smile, it will absolutely break up my readers. Of course, my gauge could be wrong - a little.) Right about now I'm at a loss as to what I'm going to do to fill up the rest of this column - and I've got to stop doing that too - or at least telling you about it. We writers have to maintain our mystique. If we let our readers know that, most of the time, we have no idea what we are going to write about - and no knowledge of what we are writing about - they might stop reading. And I can't afford to lose the two or three readers I have managed to attract after all my efforts. (Oops. I must stop disparaging my columns like this. If my readers figure out that almost no one else is reading me, they might stop too. Then where would I be? - Oh, about exactly where I am now. What am I worrying a bout!)

Whew, that managed to eat up almost 150 words right there!

I like writing. I like humor. I like expressing myself. I like making my opinions public, if not known. Thanks to the Internet, I can do all of this easily and cheaply. And there are advantages to having a small audience: if I say something that someone else can take offense at, it's unlikely they will know about it. And if they do find out, my influence is so slight, it wouldn't be worth their efforts to pursue it. And if they did pursue it, my resources are so slight it wouldn't do them much good. (I've got to stop talking about my finances - or lack of them.

Seriously, although I write mainly to massage my own ego, I do hope that I have a few readers, and I do hope that they manage to crack a smile now and then - and occasionally pause to contemplate the rare good point I may make.

Serious writers - authors - write because they have something to say. Some great insight about the nature of the universe that must be made public. Some burning issue deep in their gut that must take shape in the form of words or forever torment its host. Some authors have mastered the art of using words to paint pictures, of using words as a composer uses musical notes to create verbal symphonies that will lift and set free the souls of their readers. And then again, some writers just "write" to hear the sound of they own keys clicking.

I write to communicate. I can't do it "in person". I can't "think on my feet", so I do it sitting down - at a keyboard. My oral verbal skills are extremely limited. Sure, I can stand up in front of a class or a crowd of people and spew out a "prepared" lecture or lesson or message. But I can't make idle conversation. Why would I want to talk about the weather? The weather is the weather. Talking about it won't change it. And what about those Raptors? Or those Leafs? Or those BlueJays? Or those TigerCats. There, I covered all of the local sports (Oops, I forgot the Bulldogs, a minor league hockey team in nearby Hamilton.) I don't even know what, if any, minor hockey teams there might be here in Grimsby, but there used to be a team called the "Peach Kings". Should have been in Georgia. But I digress (and I've got to stop doing that, too!)

Did you notice how I cleverly brought myself back to my topic of "Stopping" things? Now that's the sign of a good writer. Of course, a better writer wouldn't have allowed himself to digress in the first place.

There are a few other things I need to stop: I need to stop eating so much. I need to stop sitting (at the computer) so much. I need to stop writing about myself so much. So, how's things with you? Tell me about yourself. You shouldn't let me hog the conversation like this. (Believe me, if this were a real conversation, I wouldn't be hogging it, I'd be uncomfortably trying to disappear into the background and let somebody else - anybody else - have the floor.)

The nice thing about writing a column with the title "Stop" is that I have the perfect ending for it. I don't have to wrap up everything I've said in a clever summary. I don't have to end with a witty line that will leave you smiling. I don't have to leave you with a controversial thought that you'll be discussing all day around the water cooler. No, it's much simpler and easier than that. All I have to do is stop.

Originally written in 2003.

Copyright © 2003 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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