Communication

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Communication is a living, organic thing, born in the mind of the writer and nurtured in the heart of the reader. It’s not fair to call someone ignorant, or illiterate simply because their form of communication differs from yours. Ignorance is subjective. Put a Harvard law professor in the Outback of Australia with a sharp stick and a boomerang and then tell me who is ignorant!     The intelligence of a writer is twofold. First it is within. You can sit on a porch in Texas, such as I do, and formulate dozens of ideas, but to be able to communicate these ideas, now there’s the trick! Very simply put, to make another person understand what you understand is where the art of writing resides. That’s the second, and most important thing! To embed your thoughts into someone else’s mind is a skill that you develop over years, and cannot be taught, it must be lived!     I learned how to do this in Nashville as a songwriter. To be a songwriter you must be able to reduce complex and emotional ideas to sixteen lines, and they all have to flow, and rhyme! If you “reach” for it you’ll never get there. When it becomes cumbersome you must step back, take a breath, and ask, “What am I really trying to say,” and more importantly, “Is it WORTH saying!” It helps if you miss a meal or two along the way.     You never make a point by argumentation. An argument is just two people trying to discuss something on which they will never agree.  The moment your reader senses such an approach you will lose that reader. There must be at least a semblance of agreement, a meeting of the minds, before you can effect communication. You can almost never win anyone over to your ideas who is adamantly opposed to everything you are, and disagrees with everything you say. In effect, you must always, “Preach to the choir.” The secret is to find YOUR choir, and preach to THEM!     If you agree that trying to sway an inflexible mind is a daunting task, don’t YOU be inflexible! Let your mind flow, embrace ideas. Quite often I will begin an article with one thing in mind, and before I’m done the piece will go an entirely different direction altogether. Never write a complete work with your mind already made up. Allow room for inspiration. I did this just yesterday. I embarked on an article about police. Originally I was going to rip and tear at police brutality, but before it was over, I stepped into police shoes, and two things hit me. One, I was totally wrong in my original premise, and two, I was very grateful for people who have chosen that thankless, underpaid profession!     Never let a pre-formed set of ideas direct your prose. I combine this with the misunderstanding of education. Education can be a useful thing, but adherence to ideas streaming from a professor that are accepted without question can be a deal killer. Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach! I know someone who is constantly in school, as was her mother, between them, more degrees than a thermometer . . . neither one can compose a grocery list! Oh, they’re very good at counting commas in my articles, but there is no communication between us because they are too bogged down with education, and presupposed political mindsets, set in stone, to ever engage in any meaningful dialog. Talking with them is like trying to have a martini with a religious nut! There are two kinds of people in this world; those who take a pound of dried beans, gather the spices and cook for hours arriving at just the right taste, and then there are those who just open a can. The college professor handed them a can opener long ago, and they never progressed past the microwave. You can live on their beans . . . technically.     Writing is like cooking beans. I was going to expand this into methods that I use in my work, but that won’t help you. You just have to KNOW! You have to FEEL! It’s like when you write a song. I’ve met dozens of songwriters who can count meter, jive the rhyme, construct a melody, but in the final analysis, there’s just nothing THERE! It’s called a “mill” song. Something ground out that looks good on the surface, but there’s just “something” missing. All the elements are there, save one . . . communication! Like the old joke, “Man been talking fifteen minutes, ain’t said a thing!”     When you get folk’s heads going up and down instead of side to side you have communicated! You have taken a thought, born in your mind and transposed it to theirs, and don’t let it be a can of beans! If you do it right they will take that idea and run with it.  Who knows, in your omnipotence you might’ve MISSED something! Communication is a living, organic thing.

Bill the Butcher
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I write right off the top of my head. I’m direct, funny, and simple. The key word is, “simple.” I have a high school education from Killeen High in Killeen, Texas, and that’s about as illiterate as you can be, and they still let you drive a car. No use trying to slander me. If you want to dig dirt on me you’d better bring a dump truck, because friend, I’ve done it all. If there was anything I missed it’s only because no one told me about it, because if they did, well, I’d have done that, too! I call myself, “A Simple Ol’ Boy From Austin,” because when I fall short I can always say, “Hey, I told you from the start that I was stupid.”

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