We let the facts do the talking.

A Grammarian Who Taught Me How to Lay the Bricks

Part 1: This is not a blog. This is a tribute to a wordsmith who was sent into my professional life and equipped me with the necessary skills to become an outstanding communication officer, taught me how to write like a journalist, and pulled me out of a quagmire.

A wise man once said: “Anyone can twist a tongue and speak with a native accent, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to write effectively.” I would like to add to expand upon this: Just because someone can speak with a native accent does not necessarily mean they know how to write effectively, much like not all effective writers are good orators. Speaking and writing are two different aspects and two different set of crafts that cannot be interchanged.

My interaction with Arabic and English started at a very young. I come from an erudite family and grew up with parents who always treated language with utmost zeal. However, the traditional and rooted style of parenting had its own pros and cons. I was deprived of the opportunity to internalize self-discipline and this didn’t help my parents accept an impediment like dyslexia. I didn’t grow up as an avid reader, but my upbringing made me realize that if I develop a passion for language it might turn my stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Hence forth, I was ignited by a thought that fluency, intonation, accent, and proper pronunciation get better with usage and exposure.

Wishful thinking and pragmatism didn’t pull me down, and a moment of realization was met when I received an email on my second day of work at Cicero and Bernay that read, “The pleasure is reciprocated.” I was intrigued to know more about the person who constructed this sentence. I found out that was Spark Makki, the head of English content at C&B.

As I started working on things with Spark, our everyday conversations started instilling confidence in me and unveiled a box of tricks that entail fundamentals of establishing the right foundation and helped me lay the bricks for developing a flair for writing.

He was kind enough to help me think of writing not as a way of freezing your thinking into words but a way to know what one’s position and proposals are. As such, I saw writing as a means of growth, discovery, and exploration.

It’s scary being an explorer, but it is also fun and challenging.  Learning to write well is the same as learning to perform any other skilled activity; like practicing strokes to be good at tennis or play the piano. Spark made me realize that as I gain more experience, some of the stages of the writing process will flow more quickly. It is worth noting that his impeccable copyediting skill is matchless, and I soon learned that he consolidated his position not only as a grammarian but as a polished logician as well.

For the past two years, I have independently drafted numerous press announcements and editorials that were published in highly esteemed publications. I am grateful for him, for pulling me out of a quagmire and helping me realize that as I gain more experience, some of the stages of the writing process will flow more quickly.

Ahmed Malik is Senior Account Manager at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |