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December 31, 2013

PARKER: Thanks for the memories

(Continued)

For my own edification, a few words about the differences between online writing and newspaper writing. Online writers zip and zap across the digital realm in real time, sometimes accelerating before news breaks. Newspaper writers, especially columnists, tend to simmer.

Back to the matter of differences. Because of print deadlines, I typically write two to three days before a column appears in print. Thus, I have to consider on Thursday what might still be of interest by Sunday. Though one is, therefore, always late to the game, I can think of few commentaries that don't benefit from a few days' simmer.

Another difference has to do with standards. Newspaper tradition requires that we heed the "family" rule: What is appropriate for family consumption, especially on Sunday mornings? This mandate was born (ages ago) of the desire never to offend anyone, which can make for some rather arid reading and writing that doesn't swell one's breast. One must be clever enough to select words that sneak past the kiddies, who, having wearied of FaceTime twerking, might accidentally trip over a grown-up thought.

Another frequent reader comment: "Nice job, but you failed to mention," or "You left out ..."

KP: Yes, but ... columnists are strictly held to a non-negotiable word count — in my case, 750 and not a definite article more. My definition of a column, soon to be a book title, is: "A Sliver of a Slice of a Piece of a Moment." It is a glimpse of an insight viewed through the prism of another's tenure on Earth, served with trepidation and self-flagellating humility.

This is to say, thanks for the memories, the corrected syntax and the astute observations about my laxity and bombast, and special gratitude to those (you know who you are) who shared often-brilliant insights through their own tenured prism.

I couldn't do it without you.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. She can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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