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

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Is it wrong to say “write to me?” The terrible telephone

You’re right in the middle of doing something that needs your full attention. You’re concentrating hard, just about getting to grips with it. You can see the A-HA moment ahead of you. The light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to wink at you. You reach out and almost touch it. Nearly there…

Then the phone rings. You answer.

why phone calls are disruptive

Miraculously the whizz-bang device of the 19th century, called the “telephone,” is still here with little other than the back-office technology having changed much.

“Hi Suze, it’s XXXXX. I was just having a read through of your YYYYY book and I’m not sure what you meant by your sentence about blog abstracts on page 178. Can you tell me more about it?”

Meltdown.

[Read more…]

Apostrophes: a potty-mouthed poem about their misuse

This is pretty horrible, but should wake up apostrophe abusers a lot more than the weedy articles we see politely explaining how to use the poor little things.

how to suse apostrophes

Do not fool with this small tool…

Apostrophe fascists around the (English speaking) world take note: share the following poem if you dare. Your readers may find it offensive but with luck it will get the message over.

A Poem For Apostrophe Dickheads

[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…]

Why writing capital Letters for the Wrong words makes them (and you) look Stupid

Are you one of the increasing number of people who think that all you need to make a word more important is to give it a capital letter?

Misuse-of-capital-letters

Very nice – but don’t overuse!

As my business partner (an ex-Oxford University publisher/editor/author) would say, “why capitalise your status as a Bricklayer? Does that really make it seem more important than bricklayer?”

Capital letters: after apostrophes, the most commonly abused characters in writing

[Read more…]

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