Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writing Without W's ~ Life Lessons from an 18th Century Porter ~ A to Z Blog Challenge

When I began thinking about the A to Z challenge, I thought for a long time about what I wanted to write. I tried to think of ways to find neat things about the English language with each letter. And then I thought, what if that letter didn’t exist? So I am doing an abbreviated version of my Life Lessons series that I normally do on Fridays, but without using the letter of the day. What would life be like without that letter? Let’s find out...

I don’t often talk about my story creation stuff on this blog. (Mostly because it’s not published and you can’t read it yet!) Yesterday I researched English servants for my current project. Jonathan S – actually, I can’t say his name. Dean of St. Patrick’s in the 18th century. He’s the author of Gulliver’s Travels. He also published a book about servants.

There is a lot of interesting tidbits in there, such as the implication that the housemaid cleaned in bare feet, but the chapter to the porter really caught my eye.

It’s a short chapter, only a paragraph in length. The entirety of it consists of a list of people not to admit into the house if you serve a minister of state. The list included his paid spy, his chief flatterer, his solicitor, and a host of other people. It left me trying to think of people the porter could admit to the house.

I think the list is intended to let the master of the house live in peace. If all of these people aren’t admitted to the house then they have to see him at the office. That means home is safe. Home is peaceful. Home is a sanctuary.

I think everyone needs a porter in their life. Not someone opening the door and telling the UPS guy he can’t come in. (Though I defy anyone to actually catch the UPS guy unless they have to sign something. Even if I’m in the living room and hear the package thunk on the porch, he’s gone before I open the door.)

I think people need mental porters. Lots of different thoughts may come knocking, but they don’t all need to be entertained. Job stress is better left at the door and not the dinner table. Reliving the funny scene from a TV episode isn’t appropriate in church. Impure thoughts should never be granted entrance.

Since it is impossible to shrink a man and implant him in our brains to guard our mental door, it is necessary to build that porter ourselves. It is very difficult and requires a great deal of effort, but it’s a valuable skill to possess if you can master it.

Are there methods you have discovered for shielding your mental home from undesirable thought visitors? Share them in the comments.

I use ‘w’ so much more than I realized. Several sentences I had to rewrite. Check out other A to Z participants using the link below. 


  1. Aw! The image with the from is so cute! I love your style of writing, I'll keep checking for tidbits of your work until it is ready for us to see. =) Well done!

    From Diary of a Writer in Progress

  2. I thought W was going to be easy. Boy, was I wrong! Look how many times I just used W. :)

  3. I know... I loved the frog, too. I think I'm going to make him my mental porter and have him eat those pesky thoughts that don't need in. It will at least make a fun mental image.

  4. I agree, your voice (style of writing) is evident and wonderful.

    PS I love frogs.