Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Little Whitepaper That Could

I’ve just tossed 250 words of my original post.  That’s awesome.  It tells me I’m maturing as a writer.  I’ve also been cleaning out my files because I’m about to move offices and I found a document I wrote in 2006.  I was exceedingly proud of it at the time and it got me a lot of attention.  I skimmed through it, as one does when one is supposed to be shredding and packing.  What I found made me laugh.  The ideas were solid, but oh the error.  Grammar mistakes I’d never make now.  Sentence structure that confused without adding content.  And exclamation marks.  In business writing!  Ha.  It’s a wonder I ever got promoted.

But it also underscores a truth that we all (as writers) know and, in my case, often don’t take the time to actually consider.  We are usually our own worst critics.  We think what we’ve written is better than saran wrap and send it off to be published (or read by friends) before taking the time to actually read what we wrote rather than remember what was in our head.  Or, in this case, condemn what we’ve written as horribly illiterate and destined for the recycle bin when, in point of fact, it’s quite good for the audience of intention.

That’s a curious turn of phrase.  Audience of intention.  Can I say that?  Does it makes sense?  Comments from the English department, please.

Looking back, I can see that the piece of writing I no longer consider up to snuff actually impacted policy.  We changed how we did business because the decision makers that read it understood my proposals.  At the time I failed to grasp the significance that the people I gave the document to had to pass it “up the chain” for that change to happen.  I moved my audience and they said, “You have to read this.”

I recently heard a story from a friend of mine who still works in that section.  He said they have a new initiative going now – told me what it was – and I said, “It’s about time, I was saying for years that needed to be done.”  He said, “I now.  It got started because somebody found your whitepaper.”  A new person, an old desk, and somewhere in the detritus that had been left by the previous occupant was a crumpled copy of my whitepaper on the topic.  It inspired him to action.

Isn’t that why we write?

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