Being a Writer… Jefferson Style

After the recent post about not judging the past by the criteria of the present, my heroes  have been on my mind. The two most influential founders of our country were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. They were the most dominant thinkers of that period and are among my primary heroes. One of the things that draw me to them is that I like to think of myself as being like them in one small sense or another. Madison, like me, was a small guy who didn’t really like public attention. He was a thinker who was also an introvert.

But this post is about Jefferson.  Here is some quotes from the book entitled The Quotable Jefferson  Collected and edited by John P. Kaminski:


Throughout his life Jefferson had a romance with language…

This allure of language, however, did not extend to the spoken word. John Adams recalled that in the Second Continental Congress Jefferson “never spoke in public; and during the whole time I sat with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together”…

Jefferson was, perhaps above all, a great letter writer. He wrote literally thousands of letters. He delighted in corresponding with old friends, especially Benjamin Rush and after the rapprochment in 1812 with John Adams… Nearly everyday he found himself figuratively chained to the writing table — sometimes writing ten or twelve letters in a sitting — a drudgery that kept him from his love of reading.

When I read these words it dawned on me that I too “have a romance for language but not the spoken word”.  I love putting my thoughts to paper, so to speak but loathe having to get up and give a speech. I have given some talks to pretty broad audiences in my time but I agonized with the preparation and the especially the actual delivery.

Being deaf gives me a good excuse for not being very vocal in public but the real reason is that every thought I seem to have is almost immediately self-edited in one regard or another. I just never seem to find the “right” words the first time out.  When I am writing that is not a problem, I can go back and edit it later, but when public speaking that is impossible. Once they leave my mouth they are out there.

My blog posts are, of course, my letters. Some people are amazed that over the five year or so life of RJsCorner I have written almost 3,000 posts but to me it is simply something I  do. I just can’t leave everything stewing on the top of my mind. I have to put it in print for it to make sense and to make room in my brain for the next thing that percolates up.

Its nice to see some personal qualities that are similar to my heroes. It makes me feel that  maybe my present life is worth living.

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