As an Aficionado of Letters to the Editor . . .

By John Kelly
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It's a little-known fact -- and a relatively inconsequential one -- that I got my start at The Washington Post writing letters to the editor. Oh, I was a regular little pest, criticizing Tom Shales (!), defending Tony Kornheiser (!!), snippily correcting spelling errors, doing whatever I could to get some ink in the A section of my hometown paper.

I had a half-dozen or so letters to the editor published between 1985 and 1989, when I finally had to cease and desist because I'd started writing for The Post instead of to it. Not quite Nelson Marans numbers but something to be proud of nonetheless.

I still read the letters, of course, and what I love best -- besides their passion, their breadth of knowledge and their range of viewpoints -- is the language the writers employ to establish their bona fides.

You know what I mean: "As a. . . ." You can be sure that whatever follows "As a . . ." will put in perspective, with amazing specificity, the credentials of the writer.

Here are some actual examples culled from the letters page of The Post:

As a concerned citizen. . . .

As a concerned voter. . . .

As a concerned voter in Calvert County. . . .

As a concerned citizen and writer and filmmaker. . . .

As a concerned and involved mother. . . .

As a concerned parent and a juvenile justice professional. . . .


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