Walk the talk or walk the dog?

Sep 23, 2013

I few years ago my husband and I decided to get a dog. What we were thinking? She’s this overly exuberant labrador retriever with a huge personality, madly in love with everyone she meets. 
Most days she goes to work with my husband Jim, who’s a safety codes officer. She sits in the back seat of his big truck and off they go, travelling all over central Alberta to inspect buildings of every shape and size. They’re checking for structural soundness – to be sure buildings won’t topple over, or create fire traps, or send people careening down a set of poorly designed stairs.

While they’re out gallivanting, I’m sitting in front of my computer in sweatpants and holey t-shirts. Right now I’m working on my second novel, squeezed in between business-writing contracts. 

I admit I’m a geek. I’m sure my dog agrees. On those days she’s with me, all she wants to do is play. Between walks, she searches the house, finds every toy and ball and bone she owns, and creates a huge pile at my feet under my desk. She looks at me with those mournful eyes. It’s like she’s asking, oh why oh why did you choose to be a writer when you could be a forest ranger instead?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself often over the years. I know I’d way rather write about sky diving than sky dive. And I know I enjoy simple things like making a good sentence or finding the exact right metaphor.
But it’s way more than that. The older I get, the more passionately I feel that good writing actually builds the foundation needed to support strong relationships in business and beyond. Just like a house needs proper framing, solid jousts, and adequate handrails to pass an inspection, so too does our writing. What you say, and how you say it, can turn people into believers, real fans of your business. Positive, conversational writing can cut through the clutter and everything else competing for people’s time these days.

This was my theme of my keynote address for the Northern Lights Library System conference held this week in Elk Point, Alberta.  I just may have convinced the folks in the room that positive, conversational writing can cut through the clutter and everything else competing for our time these days. My dog, not a chance. So instead, we’ll just go for a walk. 

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