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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
– Henry David Thoreau  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 10 October 2017  

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  Writing –- the almost lost art
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado.  He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals, beekeeping and family dinners with all 16 members of their extended family. “Blessed more than he deserves,” Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet, and places to investigate.
   
   Dot the I’s and cross the T’s. This sentence is a vestige of my generation where we turned in hand-written papers and used a dictionary to spellcheck our work. Thirty-five years later, we live in a time where written communication is boiled down to 140 character Tweets and one-line text messages with a liberal use of phonetics, abbreviations, emojis and slang acronyms. The ability to clearly articulate an idea through the written medium is about to be lost on future generations.
   
   In ancient times, stories were passed from parent to child to maintain the history. Writing skills are very much the same. My father is a great writer who worked patiently with me from elementary to high school to mentor and pass his skills along. I have succeeded in both school and professional life from his instruction. Lucky for me, I have three daughters who willingly seek my help as their sounding board, editor and wordsmith. I hope to send them to their professional lives with a solid basis for being excellent communicators.
   
   Unique to my experience is being both teacher and student. Before each writing assignment, we’ll talk through the requirements, write down the main points, align supporting data, and then edit the rough draft to solidify the transitions and conclusion. Two of my daughters attend Springs School of Academic Excellence (formally Falcon Virtual Academy) and my oldest is dual enrolled at Pikes Peak Community College. Through their papers, I have learned about owl species of North America, edited a historical fiction piece about the famous mob boss, Al Capone, and helped formulate a term paper on the heady topic of gender bias perpetuated in toy stores for a college sociology paper.
   
   When assisting with writing assignments, there is a fine line to walk between “Helicopter Parent” and nurturing good writers. We try to make the final version of their paper as smooth as possible. However, we all have different writing styles. Trying to maintain my daughters’ voice in their work has been an important focus. I am happy to see the amount of time invested in their previous papers has resulted in minor editing roles for me with each new assignment.
   
   Most importantly, I have passed my skill of writing from father to daughter. It’s a gift and ability they will utilize for all time. We have bonded while tackling difficult assignments, and created memories along the way. In the end, I feel as though I have succeeded in perpetuating a legacy of good writers with skills to pass on to their next generation.
  
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