I’ve always strived to write well, more so in the last 10 years when the idea of ‘my book’ has been lin­ger­ing. Both my sons write well; the old­est one loves to write and is already a pub­lished author in his field.

I believe I also speak clear­ly although my Eng­lish accent is still mis­un­der­stood (more by adults than young chil­dren!) even after 35 years in the US. I don’t enjoy speak­ing in pub­lic, ever. Prob­a­bly one of my New Year’s res­o­lu­tions (I’ve made none as yet!) could be to join Toast­mas­ters to over­come my aver­sion to pub­lic speaking. 

How­ev­er, both my sons are extreme­ly capa­ble in a pub­lic are­na (and I mean ‘arena’, some­times they have to speak before hun­dreds of peo­ple and even per­form their beloved bar­ber­shop har­mo­ny in front of thou­sands of peo­ple!). The son who loves to write is often the least com­fort­able before such a large audi­ence but thor­ough­ly enjoys speak­ing and teach in his pro­fes­sion­al field – he is the ‘web design­er of note’ in our fam­i­ly, Dan Rubin.

Writ­ing and speak­ing well are qual­i­ties that sub­stan­tial­ly affect one’s whole life, no mat­ter one’s career choic­es. They weren’t attrib­ut­es that were val­ued dur­ing my upbring­ing or edu­ca­tion. I was on the tail end of ‘seen and not heard’ when chil­dren were at home and ‘sit down and shut up’ when at school!! And from this we were sup­posed to pro­duce inde­pen­dent and thought­ful writ­ing?!! Some­times I feel they are even less val­ued attrib­ut­es in today’s edu­ca­tion­al institutions. 

I sup­pose I could say that one of the biggest advan­tages of home edu­ca­tion is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn and exer­cise the abil­i­ty to speak clear­ly and fre­quent­ly and to be capa­ble of writ­ing on top­ics more diverse than ‘what did you do last summer?’.

Such oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn not only ben­e­fit­ed my chil­dren but me too. I also held them to phe­nom­e­nal­ly high stan­dards in any of their writ­ten, spo­ken and design work. In my mind we were an ‘Exhibit A Fam­i­ly’ for our uncon­ven­tion­al home edu­ca­tion pro­gramme, start­ed in the ear­li­est days of the more con­ven­tion­al ‘home school­ing’ in Flori­da, and I nev­er want­ed any­one to be able to point a fin­ger at us for not aspir­ing to excel­lence, at the very least.

This Christ­mas I received a gar­den­ing book from an old gar­den­ing friend. She was excit­ed that she, liv­ing in the US, had found a book by an Eng­lish gar­den­ing writer, Christo­pher Lloyd, and also that I knew of the author, although I’ve nev­er vis­it­ed his gar­den, Great Dix­ter, in the south of England.

What I am most fas­ci­nat­ed by is his won­der­ful style and quirky com­mand of the Eng­lish lan­guage. ‘In My Gar­den’ is a com­pi­la­tion of sea­son­al essays he wrote in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s for Coun­try Life mag­a­zine. They read like a con­tem­po­rary blog! But it’s a style of British writ­ing I now realise I strive to emulate. 

Cou­pled with the qual­i­ty of the writ­ing is the actu­al com­po­si­tion of the book, the design if you will – the lay­out and font cho­sen, the qual­i­ty of the paper and oth­er details – which, as well as cov­er­ing one of my favourite top­ics, makes it an even more inter­est­ing read.

I hope the con­tent of the writ­ing on this blog in 2008 will match up to the high lev­el of read­abil­i­ty in its redesign – thanks Dan!