Practise makes perfect – or so the adage goes.
‘Perfect’ being relative of course and depending on myriad factors including ability and talents. The awkward upshot of this being that some people’s ‘perfect’ is better than others. More perfect, I suppose. Which is awkward but a fact of life and why we venerate certain people and not everyone.
Golf is a useful way to contextualise this. The hardest game of all – and famously associated with a quote…
“the harder I practise, the luckier I get.”
Only, this isn’t true, or for me it isn’t, anyway. I have been practising this wretched game all my adult life and yet I remain basically abject while others around me have it mastered. But this is quite normal. I am just doing my best with the abilities I have.
Writing is another of my pursuits which I am very practised at having written and published many millions of words.
My writing had inauspicious beginnings – failing my English Language O level (grade E) with few of my teachers putting much money on me. My history teacher, Mr Brennan, was an imposing man who’d studied at Oxford. I was never one of his favoured pupils and some years later, I bumped into him on the golf course. We exchanged hello’s and then he said wryly, “I hope your golf is better than your history.”
You’ll have heard people state that ‘everyone can sing.’ And within reason, I agree with this and the same applies to writing also.
Everyone can write!
Constrained by vocabulary, our writing output will require different degrees of effort and time, but logically, anyone who can speak can also write. Sure, not beautiful prose, nor grammatically correct but nonetheless, writing that can be understood and enjoyed; a category I happily occupy.
Since, I am not a trained writer. I am hazy on colons, vague on exclamation marks and ambivalent on apostrophes.
Recently, here in the UK (home of the English language) the obscure society for the proper use and protection of the apostrophe has just been disbanded. Given up the fight, its founder conceded.
By nature, I tend to be a traditionalist. Most usually, I am wary of ‘progress.’ I prefer most things as they were and I push against changes to our language to make things easier – an example being the phonetic spelling of words rather the correct spelling. Subtle thereby retains its ‘B’ because it is correct but don’t ask me to explain why. It just is.
The same applies to the use of the apostrophe.
Until it comes to THE BROTHERS TRUST that is – and explains my ambivalence because BROTHERS is notably lacking its apostrophe – and deliberately so – for IT and other tech reasons and so our fledgling charity might have even hastened its demise?
Writing, though, is a skill that can be improved. Any writing ‘success’ I’ve had is borne out of bone headed determination and interminable rewriting. Even these blogs are written umpteen times – and even when I sign off – Mrs H always finds a litany of errors with a heavy eye roll and a tut at the blind man in her life.
Which brings me to an important announcement and the reason for this rather oblique subject for a post.
We learn anything by copying people who are already proficient at something. It follows then that great writers are great readers; writers who’ve honed their skills learning from the authors of the classics.
A confession then – I am a terrible reader and yet nonetheless, Open Links is a worthy read – even just for the cause that it supports.
I have redrafted the manuscript – to make it non-year specific and updated the prize money for the story’s hero (note the use of the apostrophe here) and it is to be re-published by The Brothers Trust as a print book only.
Orders will be taken online via www.thebrotherstrust.org with copies being dispatched in the new year. I can sign copies (if you wish) and as an exciting enticement for this first print run at least – every 50th copy will be signed by TH and his brothers also.
Mr Brennan’s assertion on the golf course was correct – I am a much better writer than I am a golfer – but how good a writer, in the context of Open Links is not so important because of the cause it supports.
With ALL proceeds going to Anthony Nolan – every four copies we sell, a new donor can be added to the Anthony Nolan register in their fight against blood cancer – which means that at some point, somewhere, someone will have a chance of life.
What’s not to like?
Merry Christmas to all my readers the world-over.
Thanks for coming to my blog this year.
More to come next year – with typos no doubt and tuts from Mrs H too.
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22 thoughts on “New Years Reading…”
The only thing that I have noticed in your writings that “bugs” me or I guess I do not know the answer to. Is why the English spell certain words differently then us Americans? For example as you typed above the word “Practise”. We spell it “Practice”. Same word, meaning the same thing but spelled differently in Europe. Is this the proper English way to do it? Not trying to sound uppity by any means, just genuinely curious. Like who decides what is correct and accurate? Off to ponder..
Language evolves of course and in the UK, we are awash with Americanisms, such that all UK kids want to be Americans it seems – all rock stars/singers sing with American accents… but when it comes to language and the English language, we can claim some authority, surely?
The English have the upmost authority on all things English because yes indeed you after all did invent our language. In America we have so many different accents from state to state that supposedly if you want to speak proper English or the perfect American accent they send you to Nebraska to learn. They claim that Nebraskans have no accent or the most proper American Accent. Who knew? I am a Michigander and we have a distinct accent as well. While training as an Opera singer we had to take many a course on the proper English diction. There is a way to speak English and a completely different way to sing it. Vowel and consonant placement on the pallets. Classically anyway. It ensures that everyone listening knows exactly what you are saying. If done properly. Thanks for the reply and always being amazing in your thoughts, views and writings! Keep up the great work. Love all that you have written so far. 🙂
Somehow I found your blog, and I stayed. You are great rider and reading each post is a pure pleasure. And also it’s beneficial for my English language for which I’m very grateful. Looking forward your next posts in 2020. Thank you for your time and effort. It is deeply appreciated. Have a lovely time with reunited family. Greetings from Ireland
I am not a native English speaker, I’ve been in an English Course for a year (of course, I’m on vacation now). I want to thank you, your blogs (and now your podcast) help me so much. I learn while I’m laughing and I enjoy it. Thank you. I don’t know, but I thought you should know this. Also, the first book in English that I want to read, I’ve decided, it has to be yours.
Por eso, si alguna vez necesitas (o alguien que conozcas) ayuda con el español, estoy a la orden.
My Paddy is learning Spanish (slowly, very slowly)
That’s great. It’s not an easy language, but I’m sure he can handle it. If he can’t, I am not a teacher but I can be helpful
Hmmm. In order to guarantee a sighed copy by the entire Trust, i need to purchase 50 copies? I will need to think about that option a little more. But most definitely i will order one to gain a few words in your scribble. I will submit that request when i return home from your beautifully decorated city after the Christmas. Yes, i made it here to London though it had been a very difficult first 2 days. Shortly after landing, i began having severe abdominal pains. I was rushed to St Thomas’ Hospital (notice the correct use of the apostrophe but no period after St – strange indeed). After several hours of crying in pain and a few choice American vulgarities, the understanding physician informed me around 2:30 am that i’m the proud owner of a kidney stone! Santa came early this year with a present i can not return. Ho Ho Ho
sorry to hear this – trust it can be resolved and the pain abated in the meantime
Good medication on standby. As they say about ‘kidney stones: these too shall pass”. Self-limiting my travels here so I will skip my itinerary of Oxford Street, the Carnaby Christmas Lights, Kew Gardens, Hyde Park, and Harrods. Safe are the Hotel, immediate vicinity, and South Bank to see a busker magician friend. Maybe next year for the test. Or when i come back in March for my birthday – wont be the winter wonderland, but it will be nice
“Onwards”? You are such a funny man! My “onwards” this morning was yet another hospitalization at St Thomas.’ After s few more hours observation, oral and injection pain meds, and constant insertion of suppositories to expedite the pain medication ( you Brits sure do like it at both ends) i was released again to fend for myself. Only good event was me seeing my magician friend performing on south bank snd was able to pass along s little holiday package. Looking forward to some words of wisdom or just cheeky observations from u in the new year. Does atomic waste, Twinkie’s, or Tessa socks fit into your routine??
Hello Mr Holland,
Your blogs are very cool and rewarding. In France, I studied Sciences of language and during my degree i did lot of phonetic about lot of languages of world.
Yes language change everyday because practise change too. So news terms, news words appear each year : it really interesting.
Perhaps one day i will read a book in English. No. No perhaps. It’s sure.
Thanks you for this blog.
Typo. Sighed should be signed.
And to see how wonderful the staff at St Thomas’ is at inserting an IV catheter, Check my instagram post!
Good evening Dom. An interesting blog this evening and very enjoyable too. Words are powerful and can conjure up a variety of imagined scenarios with that power. “The pen is mightier than the sword” being a prime example. I enjoy your style of writing, it seems to be honest, insightful and definitely a little “tongue in cheek”. I’m new to blogs and podcasts, a bit like you, but am really enjoying them, particularly the one with Sam – and Tom. You’re lucky to have Mrs H on the case too. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas Dom, enjoy Tom and Harry being home and your family once again all together. Looking forward to the next time.
Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family sir! I very much enjoy reading your blogs and look forward to reading all of your books. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Reached out a hand to try again
I’m floating in a beam of light with you
A beam of light with you
And I ran
I ran so far away
with your hand in mine
I danced all night and day
Great read as usual! I also am from the states and when I see a different spelling of a certain word, my brain instantly says, “Typo!” I’ve always wondered why we Americans changed the spellings. My granddaughter attends a Spanish Immersion school where she has only spoke Spanish since kindergarten. The teacher only spoke to her in Spanish even though she didn’t understand at first, but learned through immersion. She is now a fourth grader and she is pretty fluent in Spanish! She will continue the program through her high school years. She comes home and will read her math homework in Spanish, translate it to English, talks it out, then writes her answer in Spanish. It’s pretty amazing to watch! Good luck to Paddy learning the language! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I’m sure you are happy to have all of your family home for the holidays!!
Great as always. Merry Christmas for you all!!
I love your blogs, and find them heartwarming and funny. Have subscribed to both your youtube channel and the blog page. Will be purchasing a copy very soon. Holland family, please have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New year. Lots of love, khadine
Great blogs …
Pls have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year with family and friends .
Put me down for a copy of Open Links! Merry Christmas to you and your family and thanks for inspiring us, your readers, to do good with ones talents on behalf of others. You need to add community servant to your list of life skills.
Looking forward to more blogs in 2020.