Brand building through storytelling

So what is this thing called the magic of friendship?

The hardest thing about writing is saying what you mean. Or is it finding just the right words to make your point? I waffle back and forth on this, and no wonder: wordcraft is all about meaning. If you haven’t figured out what you mean, you’re bound to cloak your woolly-mindedness in one of those vague, catch-all expressions that the burden of interpretation to the reader. I fell into the trap while concluding my previous post around 7 p.m. on a Friday evening. If I didn’t get a move on, we’d be sitting down to dinner at 9. So I reached for a slack and featureless phrase: “the magic of friendship.”

I knew this was greeting-card lingo. In my editing days, I’d have circled “the magic of friendship” with a felt-tipped pen. “What mean?!” I’d have written in the margins. Or, if I was feeling especially peevish, “my eyes glaze over” (sometimes abbreviated as MEGO). The emphatic editorial scrawl of the pre-computer age had an authority unmatched by today’s typed comments. “Pay attention,” it said. “A person of discernment is watching.”

Of course, there’s always someone watching—the reader. Any kind of published writing, on paper or online, is a contract between reader and writer. You give me your time and attention, which you could so easily invest in watching Mad Men or calling your mom; I’ll take you on a journey with words. Now, you might not have any conscious objection to the words “the magic of friendship.” But those words don’t take you anywhere you can’t venture on your own. They force you to tackle the imaginative work that I dodged in a moment of laziness.

What is “the magic of friendship,” anyway? Is it that flutter of excitement, almost like falling in love, when the two of you realize that you are now special to each other? Is it gratitude for your friend’s support, curiosity about her adventures, the camaraderie you’ve shared in bistros and fitting rooms? All of the above? Something else entirely?

This morning I reworked the ending of my previous post. Instead of trying to define this “magic” business, I wrote about women’s freedom to explore and enrich their friendships as a right that my generation claimed in the relatively recent past. I could have written an entire post on this theme alone, and perhaps I will someday. But for now I’m just glad to have said what I meant—and in my own voice, not Hallmark’s.

Posted by Rona

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