Letters: Storytelling, Making Work Work
JOHN DONVAN, HOST:
It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments.
Chris Kohls(ph) heard our conversation with Colum McCann on writers and writing, where we asked you to tell us whether you write about what you know or about what you wanted to know. He sent us this email: For me, writing is blending what I know with what I want to learn. When I wrote my first novella, I used what I knew from being a father and a husband and blended it with what I learned from research in the scientific and political aspects of the story. I'm currently writing stories that require me to research things I know nothing about firsthand, but I have met people who do some of the things I'm writing about. And it's a way to learn more about what's important to them in their walk of life. Writing is a journey, and I am often enriched by what I've learned along the way.
And from Marsha Barton(ph), we received this comment: I'm a freelance writer and former middle-school writing teacher. One of my favorite quotes on writing - the one that was writ large on my classroom walls - is this, by Donald T. Murray: "A writer is an individual who uses language to discover meaning in experience and to communicate it."
Vin Weber joined us last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where we talked about steps that companies can take to create a happier office. Emily Crop(ph) sent this email: Our office is a very happy place, I think, in part because of the way that our desks are organized. We have a very long table, and we're seated based on work groups. We're within ear's reach of everyone on the team. But when we need to huddle up and talk, we can turn around and powwow without disturbing our co-workers. In this way, no one is isolated, work is more focused, and we all feel like part of a true work family.
But Tom Jones in Cincinnati had a different experience with his office. He wrote: Our company moved to a green, open-office environment. I lost an office with two windows, privacy and quiet. Now I sit in a cubicle that's around three feet high. You can see everybody's heads. There is no privacy, and it encourages people to spend a lot of time talking about things unrelated to work. It is very noisy and hard to concentrate. For those that kept an office, they were moved to the inside walls. Hourly a non-management employees sit by the windows. So from that standpoint, they came out ahead. Everyone else lost their privacy.
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