The day I forgot who I was writing for
The first rule of thumb when you are writing a speech or any bit of copy, is to know who you are writing for â€“ who's going to hear it or read it. The second rule, is to write it in a way that that target audience can relate to it.
We do a lot of writing, and pride ourselves on never breaking this rule. We do this instinctively, it's ingrained in our writer's DNA. So it is with no small amount of sheepishness and embarrassment that I am now going to share the time I forgot who I was writing for.
I do this so you can learn. I'm selfless like that â€“ if I can't stand as at least a bad example, of what value am I? I mean really.
It was 2001 and I was a hockey dad attached to the Fredericton Bantam Coastal Tire Eagles. It was year end and that year it was decided we would pull together a bit of a souvenir book for the kids â€“ with stats and photos, that sort of thing. I was asked to write a piece that would go in it, summarizing the year.
I was pretty proud of what I came up with. We finished the season with an almost perfect record, so I drew the comparison with other major hockey accomplishments that year - Hayley Wickenheiser leading the Canadian women's team to gold and Joe Sakic doing the same for the men's Olympic team.
So far so good, then, in reference to our record I quoted Dizzy Dean's â€œIt ain't braggin' if you can do itâ€, then later ending with quoting Frank Sinatra â€œit was a very good yearâ€.
In my mind I had nailed it.
Later, after the party where these souvenir books were handed out, I asked my son Alex what he and his teammates thought of the write-up in their book. I was expecting words like â€œawesomeâ€, and â€œgreatâ€.
If memory serves, and it does, what I got from this then 13 year old was more along the lines of â€œI dunno. It just had a couple of quotes from old people.â€ Ouch.
But it serves me right. I forgot the first rule of writing.
I'm just grateful that Mark Twain is ageless. I will stop quoting him when they pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands. â€œOops, I've done it againâ€.