We wrangle words for a living here at News24/680. No matter how you look at it we’re constantly pecking out short Flash Blasts, Tweeter Things, Facebook Friendly posts and the longer-form stuff that makes the site – like this – in order to reach The Masses.
Every so often we manage to wrangle the words into submission, stringing them into the perfect, rhythmic phrasing every wordsmith lusts after – moving people, markets, governments, and institutions. Sometimes, the words fail and our structure collapses like an interrupted soufflé’ – prompting the now-expected waves of umbrage and hunting cries for our heads as the villagers meet, flare their lanterns and brandish their pitchforks.
It’s cool. It’s part of the game. We get it. But what makes it all worthwhile is when you make a connection with someone out there in the dystopian digital landscape, when you know someone has read what you’ve been saying and found the Easter Eggs you’ve hidden in your prose – a musical reference, an archaic phrase – and they write back, letting you know they’re on the same page.
It’s a glorious thing, a moment we don’t take lightly. And we keep it close.
Over the years we’ve made several of these connections – often with people you wouldn’t expect us to be close to if you knew us in “real life” – and we value them. Right Wing, Left Wing, Gardeners, Cops, Architects, Moms – even a “bad guy” or two. What distinguishes these Pen Pals from the readership at large is their willingness to open themselves, to talk about things important to them, and not always so easy to discuss.
A few of these relationships have moved into the Real World – and more than a few pints of Guinness and lunches and continuation of the dialogues started here. So it’s tough when you learn that the people you have come to know have been hard hit by personal tragedy and loss, and we’re left to fall back on our words in a doomed attempt at easing their pain.
Boil what we do down to its essential ingredients and it’s pretty simple: it’s People. We write about people, for people, and if we’re lucky we reach communicative levels with people who, while they may not always like or agree with what we are saying, are at least willing to discuss respective positions.
So, we’re raising a glass to the Pen Pals today. The writers. Those patient enough to set their thoughts to paper or an Interweb email and willing to share their thoughts and experiences – good and bad – with us.
It takes a lot of faith and trust to do this and we’re grateful for every word you share with us.