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That’s right, today, October 20, is National Day on Writing, a day established by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) “(t)o draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we (Americans) engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft . . . .”

Perhaps you forgot to wrap up gifts of pens or journals for all your friends? Didn’t get around to buying that new laptop to celebrate National Day on Writing? Don’t worry—as part of the day’s celebrations, today the NCTE unveiled The National Gallery of Writing to the public.

What is The National Gallery of Writing and why should you care? You supply the why, but here’s the what, according to words from the website:

The National Gallery of Writing is a virtual space—a website—where people who perhaps have never thought of themselves as writers—mothers, bus drivers, fathers, veterans, nurses, firefighters, sanitation workers, stockbrokers—select and post writing that is important to them. The Gallery accommodates any composition format—from word processing to photography, audio/video recording to text messages—and all types of writing—from letters to lists, memoirs to memos.

The ways we share our words continue to evolve through time, but the need for effective communication will never go away.

I write for a living, but hardly notice how often I use my writing for daily life. It’s easy to think only my formal writing counts, sort of like the way I count the miles I run but forget all the miles included in warm-ups and cool-downs, walking to and from the car, around the house, etc. All the informal work is part of honing my abilities.

I’m sure my writing skills improved a lot from doing Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way program and finally being able to stick with a journaling habit. Julia’s admonition to write as a matter of clearing your brain for further creative projects gets you in the habit, whether or not you choose to express your creativity in writing. As much as she said not to worry about what or how I was writing, I have gotten quite a few really good works—some that have been published with minimal edits—from that writing process.

Another benefit of regular journal writing is the ability to have a record of my life in all the ups and downs and in-betweens. Previously I tended to journal only when I was upset. Anyone reviewing those journals would think I led a very unhappy life!

As old school as I am, I am much less revealing in my “public” private writings, such as my blog or the essays I do publish. I don’t use my blog as a way to “out” businesses—I think organizations deserve the respect of a personal complaint before I blab to millions of my “closest” friends. I know, thanks to the digital age, we live in a time of TMI—too much information—but having multiple forums does get people to reach out to others! It’s too soon to tell yet if the lack of concern for personal privacy or treating others with respect will remain at the current level, or if, as we get more used to this type of writing lifestyle, some of the rough edges will smooth out.

If nothing else, all the digital options get people to write who might not have done so otherwise. Christiana’s typing (keyboarding?) skills improved rapidly as she began to do more online social networking. And, as much as people lament the denigration of the written language through chatting and texting, I haven’t seen a lot of that from the young people I know—sure I can’t keep up with the speed of their texts, but I don’t have to know a code to read them. The Word feature for texting actually improves my daughter’s not so natural spelling instincts.

As for myself, I think sometimes it takes me longer to write an objective e-mail than to write a personal essay. Almost always, I write as a professional writer and do not hit “send” until I have proofed the message several times, both for grammatical and/or spelling errors, as well as content errors. I try hard to keep any of my bylines from being besmirched by errors, although sometimes I still miss a few.

However, I’ve learned the hard way that in this age, if you do slip and send out an e-mail in the heat of the moment, it may get passed on before you’ve had time to compose the more measured message you intended to send, kind of like when your note gets intercepted in algebra class. Digital writing can develop a life of its own!

So today, reach out to someone with your writing. Feel free to text or e-mail, but please—talk to me in person if we’re together! Even writers like to talk, something that’s incredibly obvious when you get us out from behind our computer screens and into a room together. On second thought, maybe you will have to text me if you want me to “hear” you at our writing gatherings!

May you write often and prosper!

(c) 2009, CBL

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

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