A Way with Words by Cynthia MacGregor
Sometimes we writers don’t realize how lucky we are. Not only can we make something resembling a living with our talent, but it comes in handy in everyday life, too. Most of us can sit down and write a thank-you letter and even, if necessary, a condolence note without tearing our hairs out one by one during the process. Few of us get tongue-tied in social situations—most of us can “write out loud” as well as on paper. And when my S.O., an intelligent fellow who’s done a bit of public speaking in his time, has to write a letter to a customer (he’s an eBay merchant and sometimes gets inquiries or <gasp> complaints), he always asks me to write the letter. I have no problem finding the right words. He seems to struggle.
So you see, it’s not just in writing for a living that our gift, our talent serves us. It comes in handy in “real life,” too. But it took me a long time to realize that not everyone was as comfortable trying to express themselves, or found it as easy to sit down and write a letter.
When I realized that, finally, I decided to capitalize on that fact and help others in the process. I wrote a book, I’m at a Loss for Words, which offers sample letters and spoken-aloud suggestions for everything from writing a thank-you for a gift you hate to talking to your neighbor about his dog always pooping on your lawn. The book covers personal/social situations, personal business letters (e.g. letters of complaint when merchandise is not as ordered or an appliance malfunctions; letters to your landlord or tenant), and letters that people who own small businesses will find useful. There are also some toasts and other speeches, so if you find yourself nominated for an award or called upon to raise a glass at your brother’s wedding, you won’t be caught short for what to say.
The book, originally published in paperback by Adams, went out of print some years ago but was recently re-released as an e-book by XoXo Publishing. https://www.xoxopublishing.com/shop-online/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=119
But that book led me to think of another. The Art of Social Conversation was originally published as an e-book by a company that went under. They never paid me any royalties, but they did revert my rights, and I re-placed the book with XoXo. As I write this, The Art of Social Conversatiion has not yet been released by XoXo, but by the time you read this, it very well may have been.
And it’s not just in worldly conversations that some people stumble for the right words. Some folks have trouble talking to God, too. For them, I wrote Everybody’s Little Book of Everyday Prayers, which is kind of a what-to-say-to-God book, but it covers a multiplicity of subjects, from everyday grace to a variety of special occasions, for individuals or families, and includes prayers for kids. It’s non-denominational, non-sectarian—Christian, Jewish, Moslem, or a member of some other religion can all use this book. XoXo Publishing has this one, too. Find it at https://www.xoxopublishing.com/shop-online/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=113
There’s one more for people who have trouble finding the right words: How to Apologize Effectively, which, again, hasn’t yet been published as I write this, but may well be out by the time you read this…and again, XoXo will be the publisher.
But all this writing of what to say in certain situations just brings home to me how lucky I am to have a facility for words. (What I don’t know is when to shut up—I have a tendency to reiterate and/or to just go on at too much length. I am better now about that than I used to be, but my spoken verbiage could still use a bit of pruning <g>.) I don’t stutter or stumble or stand silent at social gatherings. I don’t need a couple of drinks to loosen my tongue. I don’t clam up when introduced to new people. And I don’t have trouble writing letters…or much of anything else.
I have always wished I could sing. I have always wished I could play piano. I still wish I possessed those talents. But you know what? I’m very grateful that God gave me the talent He did. And, though it took me a long time to realize it, I know now that it serves me not only in my career but in everyday life.
Now if only I could find the right words to talk myself out of the mess I’m in with the IRS!
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Full-time freelance writer/editor Cynthia MacGregor has had 54 books published conventionally and over 50 as e-books. She lives in South Florida with her SO, and works seven days a week joyfully. “There is no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with,” she avers. Her life includes writing and editing “almost anything for almost anyone,” though she doesn’t handle grant proposals or college papers. Her writing assignments for clients have ranged as far afield as two scripts for promotional videos for aviation-related businesses and catalog copy for a purveyor of “marital aids” (yes, sex toys). Cynthia has taught evening classes for adults in writing, public speaking, and cooking, under the auspices of her local school system. Cooking is her chief hobby, though she enjoys reading too, and also writing just for fun. She is a member of the online punsters (wordplay) group PUNY and was named Punster of the Year several years ago by the International Save the Pun Foundation. (Yes, there really is such an organization!)