“Quidquid praecipies, esto brevis.”
                                                    (Whatever advice you give, be brief.)
                                                             ~Horace, Arte poética

I’m on the second letter of my Year of Blogging the Alphabet, and when I thought about what I wanted to use for the letter “B”, blessing automatically came to mind. Plus benevolence, babies, baggage and a whole lot of others. So when the word BREVITY kept pounding me, I tried ignoring it because, after all, what’s there to say about brevity? It’s brief. George and Noah (that’s Merriam and Webster) describe it as: shortness of duration; shortness or conciseness of expression. It’s from the Latin brevitas, for brief and was first used sometime in the 15th century. So, in sticking to the meaning of this word, this is where I should probably stop.

But, I’m a writer, and stopping (or being brief) is against my nature. Still, what is there to add that hasn’t already been stated in the above paragraph? I’ll admit, I had to dust off my ol’ thinking cap for this one, but when I started considering what brevity means in our lives, it came to me. Brevity is a lot of things. It’s the brevity of time. How much of that do we waste? In my life, too much. I get distracted easily. By cats, and books, social media, music, my cracked fingernail, 

blue skies out my office window, recipes...the list is interminable. Yet, when time is so brief, why  
do we allow distractions? Granted, some distractions, like reading and cats, are necessary for mental health. Others, such as family, are life priorities. But what about the rest? What do they do to us, when we are allowed a mere 604,800 seconds every week? Have you ever stopped to wonder how many of those seconds you waste? Even if you waste a tenth of them, that translates into 16.8 hours. Given the brevity of time we're allowed, wouldn't you like to have those nearly 17 hours back? Or, maybe you could find better ways to spend some of those 544,320 other seconds that round out your week?

Then there’s a brevity of life, which is almost like a brevity of time, except it’s altogether different because we don’t know when those weekly 604,800 seconds will end for us. No matter how you look at it, life is short. Too short, because it seems like just when we’re finally getting the hang of it, it’s time to move on. One day you're young, blink your eyes then, suddenly, you're old, wondering where the time went? How did you get from there to here without much of a notice? Hopefully, we’ll all age
and live well into the rest of our allotted seconds, but that’s not for us to determine. So with whatever we’ve got, doesn’t it make sense to take advantage, live life to the fullest, fill that brevity with quality?

There’s also the brevity of a single moment in time. In one instance, so much can happen. A child is born. A last breath is drawn. A smile makes a difference. A tear conveys a story.
A winner crosses the finishing line. A photographer snaps the perfect picture - the instant a butterfly lands on a thistle. 
Photo by Joel Despain
I think we neglect our single moments because they happen too quickly. But in a moment’s brevity, so much perfection can be found. Or anguish. Or happiness. Think about some of your single moments and the impact they’ve had on your life.

Brevity of innocence is one of the saddest brevities, because living in innocence is an ideal we are given at the start, but is taken away from us much too soon.Certainly, we all have those things that bombard our lives we wish we didn't know about. Innocence of cancer would be wonderful. Innocence of all the cruelties in the world would be bliss.  Innocence of reality, a gift sometimes. Innocence of heart would probably be the best of all because in that innocence, the heart never gets broken. I love to look into the face of an innocent child because that’s a place I would choose to live, if I could. Wouldn’t you?  
MacKenzie Harris

Another one of the sad brevities is the brevity of memories. So many of them get lost to us. Some through the fading of years, some because they simply disappear. Aren’t deemed important. Aren’t particularly noteworthy at the time. Yet, we are a collection of memories, everything we know, everything we stand for, everything we believe in comes from a memory of something.  Because so many memories are brief, it’s easy for bits and pieces of ourselves to diminish when the memories do.
The memory of my 1st birthday captured
This is a very bittersweet brevity because some things are truly best forgotten, while other things are best remembered. In a day and age when so many people seem lost, this brevity could turn out to be our biggest enemy because, if we lose the memories of what makes us who we are, then who are we, really?

Of course, the writer in me demands I address the whole brevity of words situation. Poets have mastered that skill, because they can say so much in so few words. Novelists, such as myself, not so much. The longest novel ever published was Artamène/Cyrus the Great by Georges de Scudéry/Madeleine de Scudéry. It logged in at a whopping 2,100,000 words, or 13,095 pages. The shortest novel  was...well, no one knows for sure. Some say it’s Heningway’s For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. But a lot of controversy

surrounds whether or not he actually wrote that, or what it even was. It’s a good myth, though, and a good example. And I’m sure, as a reader, I’d get more out of those six words than I would out of de Scudéry’s 2,100,000. As a writer, my novels clock in at around 55,000 words, which seems about right for me, because I can get my story told in that brevity, although I know I do have some wasted words in those pages. We all do. In our writing. In our lives. In writing though, brevity is good. It engages the reader more, holds his/her attention longer. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” If only...

So, brevity. There are so many more of them out there. Brevity of friendships or relationships,
Bosom Bunny Buddies
beliefs, optimism, happiness... My little list is only the tip of a very big iceberg. Think about it. What kinds of brevity touch your life? How do they guide or change you? How do they direct who you are or what you do? Perhaps, for me, my biggest brevity was the brevity of when I could walk. I can’t now, haven’t for a very long time, and that effects my life every moment of every day. I’m also touched by the brevity of time I was allowed to have my parents and grandparents with me. Life is made up of brevities, though. That’s inevitable. But what we make of them is entirely our choice.

Now, comes the blatant promo. Yes, a new book out. The Nurse and the Single Dad from Harlequin Medicals. Available online, at all the usual places.

Next time I’ll be grappling with the letter “C” so I guess I’d better start thinking about it, or I might end up with something ungainly like calculation or coherent. Or, heaven forbid, corm (not corn). And honestly, does a plant's storage organ deserve a blog? Anyway, in the meantime, wishing you health & happiness...


Out 1 February, 2017


  1. I love this idea of using the alphabet. I have been absent for my blog for a long time. I am looking for a theme that will be brief but give me a hook for the next blog. I am enjoying the brevity of time comments and your honesty of living life . Thanks for prompting our deeper thoughts.

  2. Thanks, Sandi. I'm not very diligent at blogging, and as much as I write, I'm like you, I never seem to have the theme I need. Don't know where the alphabet came from, but there are a few letters that have me worried. Also, now that I've set the goal, and I really try hard to follow through when I do, this is going to keep me blogging every other week. Big chore for a non-blogger. Message me your addy and I'll send you my new book. Will you be at MWW this summer?


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