​​What I Saw at the International Conference in Orlando - Part 2 - Facing the Empty Page

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Lost: One brown folder. Faux leather. "Engraved" with a picture of Walt Disney that is a representation of when he arrived in Los Angeles. Contents include two tickets to IIA International Conference events (ticket for Sunday reception no longer of value), IIA International Conference Guide, IIA International Conference Pocket Guide, May 2013 Executive Summary for COSO Internal Control – Integrated Framework, and close to illegible notes to be used for potential blog post. No reward. Just would really like to find it again.

We are all geniuses in our minds. And then, pen goes to paper, fingers go to keyboard, body interacts with interface, and genius so many times turns to puffery. I cannot help but believe most of you are like me – at the start of any project the possibilities are endless and it is actually only by moving forward that the limitations take hold. Each word is a decision that sends you a certain way. Each sentence drives the sentence that follows in a certain direction. Each paragraph eliminates innumerable paragraphs that might have existed.

Putting things in writing makes the thoughts real.

And I often wonder if that is what makes report writing such a struggle for many people. So many possibilities. Which will I choose? And so many possibilities that will not get to see the light of day.

But we must make those choices. We must come to conclusions. We must decide how we will broach a subject. We must write as best as we are able.

 They say the empty page can be the author's greatest enemy. And, as much as we might like to disagree, it is just as great an enemy for the auditor. We have standards for what we must write, we have structures for how our reports should look, and we have key phrases and buzzwords we rely on when all else fails. And yet, I would argue we all pause as we try to figure out how best to take that mountain of documentation and turn it into an actionable document our clients will accept.

When I lost my notebook today (see above) I lost the notes I had regarding potential blog posts. Take my word for it, they were brilliant. And now that genius will be lost forever. (Not quite as great a loss as Hemingway losing his first stories but, I reiterate, pure genius.) Rather than lament the loss – rather than leave the blank page - I just moved forward.   And word followed word and sentence followed sentence and paragraph followed paragraph and something finally came out. 

Of course it wasn't the genius that would have occurred if I had not lost those notes. But the blank page must be vanquished. And every blank page we face must be filled because the dream of genius in our minds (story or article or blog post or audit report) is worthless until it can be shared.

​In my mind, I know I would have been great. And so you have to suffer with these pale imitations. However, I will say that I would much rather have the disappointment of seeing genius turned to pabulum than just sitting, imaging the great writings residing in a lost brown folder.

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