True story. I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school. Actually, that’s not true, I wanted to be a chemical engineer. But I was going to make a side career out of writing. I was all about the art of it. Ok, mostly I was all about the appearance of the art of it. I was in plays in high school too, not because I was a good actor, actually I was really pretty bad, but I could memorize lines like you wouldn’t believe. I hung out with all the actor people, and I remember going with a group of folks to see The Doors and coming out of Mission Valley Cinemas on the way to whatever restaurant was there (Rock-Ola I think), yelling at the top of my lungs, inspired by all things weird and Jim Morrison, “I AM GOING TO WRITE A [CENSORED] BOOK”
Mostly that just served to have my friends kind of speed up and look around to make see who was watching and for Amanda to tell me to shut up.
And one of the most exciting moments in my life, you know, one of those moments where you go running through the hall in arm-pumping exultative (yes, I know it’s not a word) YES YES YES frenzy when I managed to land a column in NCSU’s student newspaper, writing things that were almost, but not quite funny
Thankfully I had discovered computers, and I really disliked my college lit courses, and well, the rest is history. I did marry an english major and copy editor though. (and for the record I just asked her “exultative is not a word is it?” “No dear.” “Well, I’m going to make it one” “Ok dear, you do that”)
In case you are wondering if this has a point, well yes. And the point is this. I am not a writer. Clearly this is obvious.
But I have things to say. Clearly this is debatable. But let’s humor me for a moment.
And because I’m not a writer and I have things to say, I write incredibly long, rambly, parenthetically filled emails.
You know, one of the proudest moment in my life — well maybe the most amusing moments — was when I wrote this awesome email about the tyranny of dealing with Powerpoint. A faculty member in the communications department that puts together documentary films said of my email “it was like a jazz riff with words”
This should immediately harken you back to Jerry Macguire
“This… is Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Stockholm. 1963… two masters of freedom, playing in a time before their art was corrupted by a zillion cocktail lounge performers who destroyed the legacy of the only American art form – jazz. “
Where was I? Oh yes, I’m sick and freaking tired of the long, rambly, parenthetically inclined email writers catching such a bad rap. Now, I realize it’s the hip thing to do these days to pick on the long email writers. It’s incredibly easy to do too. “Oh whine, I get soooo much email, it’s just information overload, I don’t know how I’ll ever get through it all. These long email writers are just so selfish. They don’t respect my time. OMG, Jay has written another one”
Horsewaddled bollywocks (no, I don’t know what that means either, but it sounded good). You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of you asking me the same damn question for the fourth time — when I clearly addressed it in Paragraph 7, in the fourth clause of the second sentence on May 11, 2008. And again in Paragraph 4 on December 17. And yet again on the second page of that system update email on July 17.
And that idea that you think is so fabulous? I addressed that too, in my note on March 4, 2007. That was in the second paragraph even. And I gave you a half dozen reasons in one long run-on sentence of why it was complete crap then, and you can bet your sweet bippy it’s still complete crap now.
And I bet you are now thinking to yourself. “Hmmmm…. Jay is sending me up isn’t he?” No, I’m basking in metaphorical, long parenthetical self-immolating glory and I like it
Look, I’ve read Edward Tufte, I know the danger of information density. I also know the danger of a set of summary bullet points. See, Life is not a powerpoint slide. It’s a rich cornucopia of story and metaphor and side commentary
Here’s the deal. It’s my fervent desire that you have all the information you need to understand and make decisions. I want you to know how the things work. I want you to understand what I understand. And to know what I don’t know. To know my bias. To know your bias. To have the full flavor and story in all it’s technicolor glory. You need the wheat and the chaff. Is that selfish? Of course it is. But it’s not because I want to be some know-it-all blowhard. By telling you everything I know and most importantly, everything I don’t know, you got what you need. Of course, you might not need it now. But you’ll need it sometime.
Of course, it may not be what you want.
But you can’t always get what you want. I wanted to be a writer, you know?
So when I write those long, parenthetical, ridiculously rambly emails? Cut me some slack.
I want you to have information and have it to full Like a jazz riff, but with words.