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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

    My name is James Black. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Friend and/or follow me if you like.

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910 Words

I wrote 21 emails today.

Total number of words: 910 (not including greetings or signatures). That’s approximately three pages of writing.

The shortest email was three words (not including my signature): “Just received this.”

I used the word “available” ten times. And I said “thank you” over and over.

And I used the phrase “at your earliest convenience,” which is just a semi-polite way to nudge someone.

In context, the 910 words did what they needed to do. Out of context, there’s not much in those words. The emails didn’t need to establish what was going on so much as convey developments as they happened.

But choosing those words took some time and energy. Had I not used a polite, professional discourse, and had I used too many or too few words, the readers would have looked for hidden messages and wondered if something was wrong. So not only did the words in the emails not establish context, they needed to avoid suggesting context. Here’s the latest, the subtext says. This is all there is. Just doing my job. Nothing else to see here. Go on about your business.

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One Response

  1. Twenty-one e-mails! That’s 21 audiences, and a huge amount of tact. Unless you’re flaming people…. 😉

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