Finding My Voice; loud if not clear

[Day 17  Writing101, Personality on the Page.]

Well, I sort of got side-tracked on the prompts for Writing101.

I published two or three for Day 14, “To whom it may concern.”     The one that made it to actual publication had to do with a word on page 29 of a nearby book: DIAGRAM  .  Actually I wanted to write a general letter to my WordPress chums, but that got side-tracked too…. so consider this to fill that purpose, too.

Then Day 15, “Voice will find you.”  I think I published something on pop-tarts, or maybe about lists, which was not really intended for the Writing 101 exercise.  Day 16 “Third Time a charm,” wants me to write it, so I’ll put it on the back burner and plan to write it later today.

Which brings me to Day 17, “Style: Personality on the Page.”   OK.

So…the topic is my personality of writing.   This was actually what I wanted to write about a couple of days ago: my style of writing — but I’m going to write it in a different style.

First, I guess I really do have some quirks in wording.   Word choice.  (As an aside I can confide here that my brain dictionary wavers at times, and a word I want to use just isn’t readily available.  I am trying to grasp the word I want here for “weird choices.”)   ah ha…idiosyncracies … boy, does that look like it is spelled wrong!

1.  I use the word “actually” a lot.   This word was an immediate favorite back when it first came to my attention.  I like the way it rolls around on the tongue, and adds a distinct air of sophistication about it.  Actually…I overheard my great-granddaughter using “actually” in something she was saying recently.  (Yes, I did indeed feel a shy sense of pride.)

2.  Ellipses…are my favorite punctuation.  Not only does it add tonal quality to reading aloud, but it also looks nice on the page.  Dashes also have a certain flare.    Actually, though, another thing that looks nice on a printed or on-screen page is double-spacing between words.  Sorry APL or whatever style-guide…your new “style” is ugly.  I know it’s not APL, but I don’t have time to go looking for the write acronym.  (Hmm, if its not an acronym, please mentally fill in the correct letters.)   The only style guides I’ve ever used is Turabian, and the Chicago Manual of Style.

3.  I like to start sentences with the word– SO.  Sometimes I even use OK.

4.  Actually I frown on un-trained use of apostrophes…(oops, almost put an apostrophe in the word, which would have made the apostrophe possessive, as in “apostrophe’s placement”   rather than plural…meaning more than one.    Gosh–have you ever noticed what a weird word that is?

5.  Spelling: I always told my students to have their writing checked by a relative or friend that knows how to spell.  That caveat was foreign to many of my entry-level university students.   Having said that and insulted my university student followers (sorry,) I will add that once when we were discussing this a fellow grad student commented that he did not do much about spelling and punctuation errors on his students’ papers because he “did not really trust his own grammatical prowess enough to judge that of [his]  students.”

5. I try to write as I speak, so it is like hearing me when reading something I have written.  Digressions may not be my friend, but they are friendly nonetheless.   When I speak I tend to forget what I’m talking about, stutter and stammer, veer off from my train of thought into lightly-related subject matter.

I love words like nonetheless, and notwithstanding,  and enjoy using nonsense words like jigglywog.

A fellow grad student (maybe the same one who can’t spell) said to me once:  “Pat, you should use big words.”  To which my answer was  “why?”     Actually, I do tend to use “big” words in writing, but the reason I don’t use them so much in speaking is that there is a tendancy on my part to forget words, or misplace their meanings or pronounciation…which cancels out the coolness of using the big words in the first place.    Besides, when speaking we are forever tied to what we SAY, whereas if we put something erroneous or stupid in writing there is always a chance to retract and substitute different wording.  That is good insurance against sounding foolish.

So this particular post on “finding my voice” has been written (by me) in what might be thought of as a stream-of-consciousness style.  It is complete with asides, back-tracks, and general meandering.

Unfortunately, anyone who follows me very closely will recognize  my convoluted and rambling verbal speech patterns.

When it comes to writing, I believe my voice varies in tone and style with the subject matter, and purpose of the writing.  A piece that is meant to be humorous will be written in a very different way than a political commentary.   I wouldn’t attempt to write a light-satire piece about any aspect of war–or a serious and somber article about Ronald McDonald.

If I write a blog about my favorite TV star, Jennifer Aniston…it will sound different than if I’m writing about Hillary Clinton.  This is not to say that a compare/contrast article could not be written about these two women…just that the content would be different.   Both are blonde.  One is an actress, the other a politician.  I don’t know much trivia about them.  However, a compare/contrast about specifics–age, cooking skills, favorite authors, opinions about dressing little dogs up in ballet costumes– well, actually…I can’t see any even-close-to-pertinent information piece would have any practical purpose.

[Note to the Word Police:  I hope that I don’t amuse anyone when my intent is to be serious.]

4 thoughts on “Finding My Voice; loud if not clear

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