11 November 2015

A good week to be an English major

Last week was a good week to be an English major in my world.

First there was Word Week, an event that Hallmark hosts every fall, organized by the Writing and Editorial community, in order to celebrate and venerate the craft of the writers and editors. We showcase our own skills and talents and we invite guest speakers to come enlighten us on their particular work. And each year I come away from Word Week with a keen appreciation for the work that my colleagues and I do.

Then, I left Word Week and headed to OKC for the weekend to attend homecoming at my alma mater, Southern Nazarene University. I typically don't attend homecoming but this year the school is honoring the Division of Cultural and Communication Studies so I made the trip down. Back when I was in school it wasn't called that; it was called the English Department. But nowadays the school has an entire division devoted to modern languages, literature, mass communication, and graphic design.

Since the homecoming focus was on the English department and our ilk, and since Word Week had just wrapped up at Hallmark, I found myself ruminating on all of us in that department - the storytellers of our day; the hard working word people wielding our rhetorical powers for good, not evil.

The writers and editors, yes, but also the broadcasters and bloggers ... the translators and interpreters ... the lyricists, the poets, the playwrights ... the advertising copy writers, the graphic designers ... the debaters, the PR folks, the speech writers and lawyers ... the professors and the presenters ... the VPs of corporate communications and the heads of foreign languages departments.

We are the ones who see the stories that others miss. Or we write the stories that others need to hear. We are the observant ones that find the patterns, the analytical ones that make you think. And the funny ones who make you laugh. We are the ones who ask the unanswerable questions and who don't shy away from trying to answer them. We are the ones that tell the narratives that help people find their place. We are the ones that make sense of a senseless world and find beauty in the darkest moments; we process the confusion and smooth out the rough spots and bridge the gap. We are the ones who write your greeting cards and who write the things you share on Facebook. We are the ones that write the songs, sermons, poems or prayers. We are the ones that know that just the right well-crafted message can make all the difference.

Everyone has the same set of 26 letters to work with. But we are the ones, the alchemists who take those same 26 letters and make some magic.

From the commercials that go viral for all to see ... to the blog posts that only a few people read - writing that matters is everywhere. Maybe we don't sign 4 year contracts for 80 million dollars, nor will we be welcomed home with a ticker tape parade and 800,000 attendees. But we know how hard we work and we know how important it is that we celebrate our skills.

Here's to all my fellow word people. Thank you for what you do.

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