What Do You Wish You Had Said?

I’ve just been away on a writing course in North Wales. Wonderful setting in the mountains, amazing weather, time to write and think and talk about writing, lovely walks, delicious food … as they say ‘What’s not to like?’! One of the writing exercises was to choose a first line and continue writing for fifteen minutes. I chose I wish I had said.

I Wish I Had Said

I wish I had said – a word, a sentence, or even … a speech, a tirade that couldn’t be stopped.

Oh, they would have tried.
‘But -‘ they would have said. ‘Why don’t you – ?’ they would have asked.
But I would have kept going: Saying. Telling. Explaining – how it is.

Often it would have been enough to say: ‘No!’ A little word but powerful. The hard consonant – a rap on the knuckles, a call to attention. And the insistence of the o – drawn out as if in a scream: Nooooo.

If I had said it, it would have stopped. I could have changed everything if I had … if I had … What? Go on. If you’d what?

I don’t know. If I’d had … the courage … the power … the gift to persuade.

But you’re making excuses. There’s no excuse for wishing – wishing corrupts; wishing pretends; wishing dissembles.

When you say I wish I had said, you convince yourself you’ve almost said it. It was there on the tip of your tongue. Poised. Ready to leap.

But you didn’t say it, did you? You swallowed the word and you comfort yourself with I wish I had said.

Well, you didn’t. You didn’t say it. And now look what’s happened.


Is there anything – I wonder – that you wish you had said?

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  1. Becky says:

    Hi Lindsey, thanks for that…….You know how it is when someone dies…. everyone always says amazing things about that person? I wish we said those things to that person before they had died and now can’t hear how we feel about them. I suppose, sometimes, it might work the other way. …..hmmm

  2. Lindsay says:

    Yes, that is the especially poignant time for regrets. I suppose it happens in lots of smaller ways as well – when we don’t support someone in a meeting; when we let an injustice go; when we don’t know what to say but something would be better than nothing; when we think – too late – what we might have said in an argument … and then there are the times when we wish we hadn’t said something!

  3. What a good exercise! Glad to see you enjoyed your writing break.

    There are too many things that ‘I wish I’d said …’ to start to own up to them here! … but I will remember this ‘in’ and think about it for the future.

  4. Lindsay says:

    I know. It gets scary when you think of things not said – and sometimes things said that would have been better left unsaid! Strange how we often don’t say things when really we want to.

  5. Liz Sharpe says:

    Thank you – this was very thought-provoking. I tend to play out possible scenarios in my head, trying out this and that thing to say. But of course when faced with a real live situation it all goes very differently. And of course there’s the action reply of something that’s gone horribly wrong, in which wishful thinking plays a large part. Perhaps that’s why I love writing – I can control both sides of the argument (to some extent)!

  6. Lindsay says:

    It’s amazing what you plan to say and sometimes what you wish you had said – conversations existing in parallel with the one you actually had.

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