What I’d like to have written to my dying friend

This past weekend I followed my own advice about writing to someone who is dying, and knows it.

He is C., a friend from my youth who, in his early sixties now, has contracted an incredibly rare disease: approximately 2 in 1 million people get it. It is incurable and fatal within months of diagnosis.

writing to a friend who is dying

When someone is dying, all they have left is memories.

It is vicious, evil, and the most cruel part is that the conscious brain is the last bit to go when everything else has given up. Victims can track their own decline almost to the end.

Only a couple of weeks post-diagnosis he no longer can work his laptop or read his emails. His son contacted all our old group of friends to say his dad is still OK mentally so if we wanted to share our thoughts, we had to do it now, via emails. He will be reading them to him.

C. only has weeks to live and can’t have visitors other than immediate family. What could I possibly write to him? [Read more…]

Punctuation: praise it or punch it on the nose?

Are you a slave to proper punctuation? Or is punctuation a slave to you?

Being a pro writer and author and all that, I have given dozens (literally) of traditional editors self-induced alopaecia after reading my book manuscripts. Why? Because I don’t stick to punctuation rules.

Article on punctuation

Punctuation rules: should they be relaxed? Now there’s a puzzle

Being a North American, too, I use punctuation that spans the Atlantic giving the grammar police on both shores the desire to stab me with a red pencil.

And you know what? I don’t care.

Don’t forget that I am a former copywriter, and copywriters are notorious for flipping the bird at conventional grammar, punctuation and even syntax sometimes in order to create an effect.

Ridiculously bad punctuation: not what we’re talking about

[Read more…]

How to write speeches for a same-sex wedding

Having written quite a lot about speeches for almost everyone in “conventional” weddings, I have been asked many times for some tips on writing speeches for same-sex weddings.

wedding speeches at same-sex weddings

If you are making a speech at a same-sex wedding the most important homework you can do is to research your audience very carefully

At first glance that may seem a reasonable question. But having attended a number of same-sex weddings as well as bi-sex weddings, I find that one fact springs up at me time and time again, like the handle of a rake I just stepped on.

That is, what the hell difference is there? Weddings are about two people who love each other who want to formalise their relationship and share that with their families and friends. End of. Did I miss something here?

Anyway still, in some social circles, we’re expected to regard same-sex weddings as, er, different … until such time as everyone gets on with the fact that they’re not. It’s true to say that such things are changed for the better via evolution, not revolution. [Read more…]

Three million reads about writing: check out the most popular here

Just checking out my stats and found that HTWB has now had more than three million page views.

I’m “gob-smacked,” as we say in the UK: surprised, thrilled, delighted and humbled all at the same time. What a wonderful testimony to those of us willing to share our expertise for no financial gain.

3 million page vieww for HTWB

Celebrate with us: more than 3 million page views of HTWB

And what a wonderful testimony to the many writing and allied contributors who have made this humble site what it is. You all know how you are: too many to name individually but covering all aspects of writing that I can’t, from writing fiction to business plans to terms and conditions to bids and tenders to music to poetry and much, much, more.

No ads, no covert links in articles, no need to sign up, so no spam

(But you can buy some books from the Bookshop or right side bar if you like!)

Here are some of the most popular articles and tutorials you can choose from: [Read more…]

Valentine’s Day jokes and poems to make your day go with a, er, bang

A few years ago I curated some amusing Valentine’s Day (rude in places) content, and wrote quite a lot of new content in its honour.

Updated humour about Valentines Day on HTWBIf you should find yourself not quite in the gooey-eyed, romantic mood you should be in, say “to hell with it” and have some laughs. Here’s that content again…

Valentine’s Day rhyming couplets

Romantic first lines, not-so-romantic second lines

Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss
But I only slept with you, because I was p*ssed

I thought that I could love no other
Until, that is, I met your brother

Of loving beauty you float with grace.
If only you would hide your face. [Read more…]

What to write to bereaved parents – Part Two

It’s one thing to write about what to write in general terms. But when it happens to you, and the deceased child is a relative, wow – does that really bring it home.

What to write to bereaved parents

My cousin whom we lost a few days ago aged just 31. What the hell can I say to his parents? What can anyone anyone say to his parents that might help them?

On Tuesday this week I sat in my car after attending an excellent business networking launch of a new group and, feeling in a good mood, I took my phone off “silent” and looked through my messages.

One from one of my favourite cousins, a French-speaking Belgian (my mother was Belgian) began with the words – in French – “I am devasted to tell you that our son was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Philippines on Sunday.”

He was 31 years old. [Read more…]

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