Mo Guernon, Ed.M. / Writer & Consultant
A CAMEO OF AN ACCOMPLISHED WRITER’S CAREER
I think; therefore I write. I write; therefore I think.
OK, I admit this isn’t a completely original thought but a twist on Descartes’ most famous maxim, “I think; therefore I am.” (Thanks for the formula, Rene.) My version, however, captures the immutable bond between insights and the process of composition.
This profile is obviously more than just “a word” about me, but unless you take everything literally, you had already figured that out. (Wish I had the genius, though, to distill the highlights of my career into a solitary “bon mot”.)
But back to my story.
Since my childhood I’ve been in love with language: the cadence of it, the grace of it, the power of it. I guess that’s an inevitable result of a voracious appetite for books. A reader can’t escape the gravitational pull of a well-turned phrase, a clever metaphor, or a majestic flight of fancy.
So I blame Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Emerson, Frost, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Cahill, David McCullough, Lance Morrow, Ted Sorensen, and countless other masters of drama, fiction, verse, history, biography, essays, and speeches for having inspired me to write, though I admittedly do so wholly inconspicuous in their prodigious shadows.
And so it all began.
First, though, yet another admission: with the exception of a single semester writing course in high school, I was not trained for my lifelong metier as a scribe. I learned to write by writing and reading exhaustively.
As a high school freshman, I became a reporter for the quarterly school newspaper and, as a senior, became its editor-in-chief.
From high school to college and beyond, I honed my writing skills and put them to use in pursuing my other passion: politics. As a young volunteer in numerous local campaigns, I enthusiastically drafted press releases, newspaper advertising copy, promotional literature, and speeches. It was a thrill to see my words in print and echoing from a candidate’s microphone even though, as a ghost writer, my anonymity remained intact.
In the meantime I had become a stringer for a small newspaper, covering such mundane events as board of selectmen and school committee meetings while doing occasional cover stories, all of which sharpened my interviewing skills and got my byline on the front page. Fairly glamorous stuff for a fledgling writer — or so I thought at the time!
Years later I would parlay that experience into paying gigs as a political consultant, syndicated columnist, writing teacher, and free-lance magazine writer. That’s how I eventually learned the wisdom of Jean-Paul Sartre’s insight, “Words are loaded pistols.” They can indeed be used to mislead, wound, and destroy. But Sartre got it only half right. They can also enlighten, ennoble, and inspire. For good or ill, nothing is more powerful than an idea clearly disseminated through the mastery of language.
Readers of my work often ask how tough it is to generate topics for the pieces I compose. That’s the easy part, I always tell them. My list of ideas is endless; the problem is finding the time to write about them all!
I have an insatiable appetite for ideas, though they occur to me at odd moments. For instance, I do my best thinking when mowing the lawn, showering, and driving (which fully explains why I routinely miss exits, even on routes that I travel regularly!)
Thinking and writing are inextricably linked. In his poem, “The Road not Taken”, Robert Frost noted how “way leads on to way” in human decision-making. It is a fact equally true of thinking; thoughts lead on to other thoughts; reasoning begets reasoning. The writing process inevitably engenders thinking and clarifies it as well.
As I sit at my computer, ideas percolate at a ferocious rate, creating a jumble of thoughts that otherwise I would never have imagined. Organizing them into a unified, coherent whole; taming words and phrases and clauses and sentences and paragraphs into a comprehensible (and occasionally, eloquent) product is the challenge — and thrill — for a writer.
That’s why the exercise is always a new adventure. Always a new challenge. Always a new opportunity.
For the novice, though, writing can be a daunting, often mystifying, and frustrating process. That holds true even for some well-educated professionals. It’s been said that nothing is so intimidating as a blank sheet of paper or word processing page. For many that is a nightmare they fear to confront.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Of course, not everyone is destined to be an expert writer, but every individual is capable of developing the fundamental skills necessary to communicate clearly and effectively in the workplace and elsewhere.
That’s how I help people. I make writing their ally in whatever quest they might be pursuing.
“In the beginning was the Word,” begins the Gospel according to St. John. Words are the ultimate creative force. They always have been and they always will be.
Those who ultimately master their written form usually have the last word.
A DISTINGUISHED AUTHOR’S INSIGHT ABOUT WRITING
“Writing is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives.”
QUEST WRITING SOLUTIONS
Quest Means Business: Excellence in Communication