Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Telling real ones from wannabes

By · Monday, June 20th, 2011

Which are the flowers, which the weeds?

It’s a chore to weed a garden, especially when the weeds cast themselves as look-alikes among the flowers. The weeds can be just as pretty. They can pretend to be the real deal. But they aren’t.

An apt description of a weed, which someone once shared with me: “In a field, it’s a flower; in your lawn, it’s a weed.” How true. It depends on our perspective.

Years ago, I tried my hand at drawing. For my first attempt, I chose to capture my favorite shoes in charcoal.

I proudly showed my work to someone with artistic talent. She called it a “happy accident.” I never drew again.

That was a mistake.

I could have continued drawing for my own enjoyment. I knew I wasn’t an artist; I would have been happy as a wannabe.

The same could be said about any profession or occupation. There are those who are trained, who have years of experience, and who practice their calling daily. Then there are those who might be good at it. Still there are clear differences.

You probably wouldn’t hesitate to change a light bulb, but would you run electrical wire in a house?

You probably shampoo your hair daily, but would you cut it yourself?

OK, I do know someone who has cut her own hair, including the back. And I do know someone who is not an electrician but who has run wire in a house.

As with anything, you can always find an exception. But the people in my examples did it for themselves, not for others who would pay them for a professional service.

Flower or weed, the real deal or a look-alike. You need to know what you’re dealing with and what you’re willing to accept.

Which are the flowers, which the weeds?

The blue one is a forget-me-not, referred to as an “emblem of faithfulness.” The yellow ones are weeds. There might be more of them, but they still aren’t flowers.

Emilie Davis

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