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Too Hot To Handle. . .Writing To Provoke

November 26, 2014

I don’t think we are going to use the gay marriage article.

Okay. . .

It just doesn’t fit the personality of our paper.

Well, I knew it would be controversial when I wrote it.

Actually, the editing staff had a discussion on it. My thought was that we should print it even if we don’t agree. The editor and the board felt differently.

This is a discussion I had with my publisher about two weeks ago. As many of the readers of this space know, I write for my local newspaper, The Timpanogos Times. I can’t link to their website because they don’t have one. It’s that old school.

The paper is in the process of turning from a quarterly into a monthly. It’s really a labor of love for the publisher. I’m sure he loses money on it every month, but he’s an old fashioned newspaper man who believes that a community needs a local paper.

I approached him last year while looking for work and decided that writing for a newspaper could help bolster my resume.

Hey Calvin, do you know any paper that I might be able to write for?

You can write for us.

Oh?

Sure, I’ll give you a regular column. Just write about whatever you choose to.

My column is called “Bliss Bits.” My lovely wife came up with the name. I write about topics with a local connection. My “gay adoption” column wasn’t my first controversial column. last month I wrote about race relations in Utah. Being the father of seven black children, the topic is very personal to me. (An Uncomfortable Conversation about Race) I had to convince the publisher and editor to run it. It generated a letter to the editor.

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Who writes letters anymore?

Of course, he didn’t agree with my take and accused me of harming race relations in Utah. I wrote him back.

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Amazingly he wrote again. My publisher handed me the letter with a kind of amused look on his face.

He still thinks you’re wrong. He wants us to print his letter as a rebuttal.

Do you do that sort of thing?

No. And we don’t intend to start now.

I admit that the reaction to that column a month ago gave me the courage to write one even more provocative, my “gay adoption” column. I’m not going to reproduce it here, because the contents are more political than business oriented. But there’s a link at the bottom to a blog where I post more personal information.

The point I wanted to make in this is the power of writing. We’ve all heard “the pen is mightier than the sword.” And It’s a testament to the power of words that whenever a power seeks to control a population, the first thing they do is limit communication.

So why not write everything provocatively? Why not seek to inspire revolution, even just in thought, in every post? Don’t writers want to change the world? Or do we only care to document it?

Every post cannot be a change the world post for two reasons.

First, as a writer, it takes a lot of work for me to write a manifesto. I researched my “gay adoption” story for weeks on social media. I gathered quotes and comments. I engaged in discussions. I spent way more time on it than a have to devote to every post in a five day a week blog. There’s just not time to do that for every post or column.

Second, as readers it can be emotionally taxing to read a change the world piece. Movies, even action movies have a rhythm to them. You cannot offer up non stop action. The audience becomes weary of being kept on the peak of an emotional mountain. The best movies give readers, I mean viewers, a chance to catch their breaths, a chance to digest and think about what they’ve just seen, a chance to anticipate the coming conflict and in the anticipation, emotionally prepare for it.

To wrap up with a business application, if every email you send is TYPED IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE YOU ARE REALLY UPSET OR ANGRY, pretty soon, people will start ignoring your email. They will assume that you are just one of those angry people and typically we want to avoid angry people. Likewise, if every email is full of weeping and emotional land mines, people are going to tend to skip over those emails as well.

But, if you have a reputation as a pretty even keeled person, when you do send an angry email, or an emotional one, it will resonate far better with your audience.

Feel free to write with passion, but give your readers a chance to catch their breath as well.

Here’s a link to the “gay adoption” column that was rejected by my editor.
Should Gay Couple Be Allowed To Adopt?

And here are some of my previous columns for the Timpanogos Times.

November 20, 2014 My Year Long Job Search

October 8, 2014 An Uncomfortable Conversation About Race

June 21, 2014 Doing It The Hard Way. . .Sometimes On Purpose

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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One Comment
  1. Ila Swain permalink

    I liked your point about emails at work and the power it can have, if you are normally even keel, when you do write an angry email. I experienced this while managing a retail store. Our A/C unit had been broken all summer. With the hot Utah days climbing into the 90’s or 100’s our store became incredibly uncomfortable for employees and patrons. I was waiting for approval from corporate to get the unit fixed. I tried sending follow up email, daily ones, mentioning the temperature, any comments our customers made, and how it was affecting our revenue. All in polite tones, but trying to concey the urgency needed. Nothing worked. So I sat down and wrote a scathing email. I called out the person holding everything up and laid out the facts. I then cc’d their boss and anyone of consequence I thought could help move things along. After months if waiting, the next day I had a repair man there and a new unit within a week.
    If I always sent scathing, upset emails my request my have been ignored or brushed aside.

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