June 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're a little bit ashamed of your short ones.”

—Stephen King

Word Pair of the Month: stationary, stationery

Ah, the havoc one little letter can wreak! In this month’s pair, whether you spell the ending with an a or an e makes a big difference.

Stationary with an “a” is an adjective that means “unmoving.” Here is an example that uses the word correctly: “During the hurricane, we lashed ourselves to a stationary post and hoped for the best.”

Stationery with an “e,” however, is a noun that refers to writing paper used for letters: “She purchased some elegant stationery to write a letter to the queen.” (Perhaps the e in “elegant” can help you remember the difference between this month’s words.)

June Writers’ Forum Question

What is your greatest inspiration—the one thing that pushes you to do, be, and act better; the driving force that motivates you and keeps you going no matter what?

We really enjoyed the following comment from Rosalind Hebert, a public information planner for the Houston-Galveston Area Council:

My greatest inspiration is to hear from my boss and my coworkers that my contribution at work is appreciated and has some value for them. Their need for what I do best is the driving force that motivates me and keeps me going no matter what. I love what I do and am happy to use that knowledge and experience to assist others in doing their best or in attaining their goals. I had excellent mentors in high school and college, and I want to be a mentor that someone will remember long after they have achieved success at whatever they do best.

Many respondents wrote that their families were their greatest inspiration. Denise Cho of Chicago said it best:

After my divorce, I felt like just sinking into a hole. But my daughter needed me, and she needed a life that only I could provide. So I had to step up and keep moving, one foot at a time. Because she trusted I would take care of her, I had to do it. She needed more than just a roof and food. She also needed a role model to say, “This is what you do when life turns sour.” I took some classes, got my degree, and landed a good job. By doing it for her, I also did it for me.

Don Giraldi of Bayonne, New Jersey, also wrote about family:

My inspiration comes from a photo of my grandfather that I have on my desk. He’s eight years old, standing on the dock at Ellis Island, and he’s just arrived from Italy…all by himself. I can only imagine the fear he must have felt, yet he did it. When I feel frustrated in my job, I look at that photo and think, “If he could do that, I can do this.”

Kyle DeMuth of Charleston, South Carolina, is quite straightforward about what keeps him going:

My inspiration? Let’s be blunt: I want money. Don’t we all, to some extent? I come by this naturally—we were dirt poor when I was a kid, and, like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, I swore I’d “never be hungry again.” But before you condemn me for being crass, let me explain. I’m not a Scrooge, hoarding money for money’s sake. I want to use it to protect my family, to take care of my aging parents, to be able to give freely to charitable organizations, to do all the things that money allows you to do in this world. That’s my motivation—to be free to do good things. And what’s wrong with that?

A Final Thought

“As a man changes his own nature,” Mahatma Ghandi said, “so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” That’s a concept worth mulling over.

There’s an old story about a man walking down a road, and the Sun and the Wind are debating over who can get him to remove his coat. The Wind tries first, blowing fiercely, but the man just clutches his coat more tightly. Then the Sun tries, gently spreading warmth, and the man sheds his coat almost immediately.

Nobody likes a blowhard. In fact, the more quietly we exude confidence and helpfulness, the more likely it is that others will open to us. Not only is this significant in our private lives, but it is also increasingly important for 21st century teamwork.

For more about the transformative nature of being helpful, you may be interested in “Three Words for Moving Forward” on the UpWrite Press blog. And of course, we would love to receive your comments on the subject—either on the blog or by email at contact@upwritepress.com.

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