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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