Friday, February 09, 2007

I write a little myself, as well...

A woman, one of the Workers, asked me on Monday if I had witnessed the Super Bowl sporting contest the previous evening. I said no, that I was writing poetry in my journal at the time.

I was kidding with her, giving her an answer that contained what I imagined might seem like the opposite of watching the Big Game. She laughed, like she was supposed to, but then kept on laughing at the very idea of me writing verse into a notebook.

This is something I actually do. But to her it seemed as likely as if I had told her I had played in the Super Bowl the previous evening. She does not believe I have the depth necessary to want to write things down.

I walked off a little offended. Sure, the personality I display among the Workers is a bit less than poetic, but the idea that me sitting down to write something would strike someone as inherently comical stuck with me.

Ultimately, I decided she was probably not wrong in reaching her conclusion. She does not know me well, and Worker Maht is a bit of a strain. I am not particularly eloquent in general when my words fly out into the air. I cannot massage them as I can on a page. Add in my ADD, stress and various other factors and I can see how it might be a little unlikely that the loud, weird guy might spend his nights agonizing over the phrasing of a sentence.

I think some of the people there think I spend my nights coming up with clever things I might say to them.

And then, it sort of happened again with my written words yesterday. I sent a brief excerpt of my current novel to a friend, and he replied that it didn't really read as though I had written it. I think he expected the somewhat breezy style I maintain on my blog, which is also what he has encountered reading bits of my NaNo piece. He expressed surprise that it contained so much imagery.

This sort of style (the blog one) is pretty easy for me to write, and I don't think it is a bad way of expressing myself, but it is not really what I have in mind when it comes to crafting this story. I used that style to get through NaNo, sure, but I never had any intention of publishing that book, and the characters and situations lent themselves to a more casual approach. I guess I don't think of it as "my style." It's just a style. My current novel requires another.

I use it here on my blog because it is the closest I can come to my side of a conversation on a page. And I deliberately do not edit or tweak the words much, letting them instead just pour out as they might if I were speaking to you. I tell myself that this makes me seem more communicative.

I've finally started making headway on my novel again. This one is coming so painfully slow that I keep thinking that I cannot tell this story. And then, when I am just about to quit for a while and go write my other novel, a small facet will sort of make itself evident and I can write that part. In this fashion I got about 4,000 words this week. This feels great, especially as I cut 3,000 last week but never updated the word count meter in the sidebar. I couldn't bear the thought of advertising to you that I was going backward. But now that I'm a whole one percent closer to a completed first draft, I feel like dancing.

Well, OK, maybe not dancing. As likely activities go, dancing falls somewhere below writing poetry in my notebook. And somewhere above watching the Super Bowl.


Anonymous said...

I had the almost opposite situation occur. During a meeting I was writing poetry in a notebook, assuming it would look like I was writing notes. Afterwards someone asked if I had been writing poetry! And he was on the other side of the room so he couldn't see how it looked on the page. He was write, but I felt insulted a bit as well. Is it so hard to believe that I'd take notes during a meeting?

Anonymous said...

oops, he was RIGHT.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm so glad you put this out there, that you write in different styles. I do, too, and my blog is not at all like my "real" style or, more precisely, style(S.)

I've been feeling kind of schizo about this.

You shouldn't worry about what anyone you work with thinks of your persona. We all make certain adaptations in the workplace either to fit in or simply to protect our tender inner selves.

Poetry has always seemed to me the most direct route to my feelings, whereas prose can be used to cleverly conceal them. People who dislike poetry are probably afraid of emotions, their own and those of others. I call them emotional illiterates.

But spontaneous dancing is pretty cool, too.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I really enjoy the style you use on this blog, particularly the humor. :)

Unknown said...

No good trying to analyse it - the writing voice changes as needed.

Recently, someone who knows me well, came up to me waving my book.
"You wrote this? I knew you could write but I never thought it would be this good - it doesn't even sound like you."

I had always imagined that my novel writing was totally me, maybe now I should think of it as the 'inner' me - heh.

Reading the Signs said...

"A poet is someone who can hammer a nail straight." I can't remember who said that. I like it; though in my experience a poet is someone who doesn't know how to drive. I do, so perhaps I'm not the real thing. What is a poetic personality? Anyway, I enjoyed this post. I love it when writers talk about process, all the particulars and incidentals.

Chris said...

I also write the odd bit of poetry but only bad poetry. Laugh if you will, but it's tough to do. I've only ever posted one for the world to see

I've enjoyed reading the Vision entries. I seriously thought of trying my hand at a submission, but every time I started to draft a story it ended up being autobiographical.

Perhaps a non-fiction contest?

The Moon Topples said...

Jessica: I like your story. I suppose I wish I came across as the poetry type, but it's work and I don't, I guess. Hope you didn't get into trouble...

HinSF: Glad to lessen your schitzo feeling. Or at least give it some company. I don't generally worry about the opinions of others (especially coworkers I don't know very well), but having only recently decided to write seriously, I suppose I am still sometimes vulnerable to thinking that maybe I don't have the right whatever to make it work.

Struggly: Thanks. I like this style, too. But it isn't for everything. Also, thanks for reminding me that I haven't been very funny lately. Maybe I'll try to fix this soon.

Minx: I guess I think of it as "a" me, but "inner me" works nicely, too. And I suppose it's nicer for friends to be pleasantly surprised than having it be one of those awkward things where they hate what you've written.

RTS: "Hammer a nail straight..." Is this because there's no money in poetry and they all become carpenters? I shall analyze my driving to discover whether I meet the other criteria. Thanks for your nice comments.

Chris: Bad poetry is pretty easy to write, but only if you're not doing it on purpose. I kind of liked the shoe poem: is that wrong?

And autobiographical would probably have been fine. A lot of fiction is just thinly disguised real life. Maybe next time?

I thought about having a non-fiction aspect, but couldn't make it work logistically with the rest of the contest. Will mull the idea over, though.

Ms Baroque said...

Hm, that's so funny. I spend my whole life trying to come over as NOT the poetry type! (Once I was getting ready to go out and I said to my kid, who was 13, & who has a very reliable eye: how do I look? "Like a poet," he says. I go oh no, is it the shoes? Do you think I should change the shoes? He goes, "You can, but it won't work.")

Anyway, in my experience if someone can't imagine you writing, it's because they can't imagine themselves writing. People project. That's why they say things like, "Oh, what a nice hobby," or they can't believe it if you say you get things published. It just hasn't occurred to them that someone they know could do that.

Especially at work!

Marie said...

I think you write well.

I actually find it harder to write for my blog because it's closer to my speaking voice. I find writing fiction much easier, especially if it's in the first person as I can become the character and take on their voice. It's a bit like acting I suppose.

The Moon Topples said...

Ms. B: I think it also has to do with people making the quick and easy decision regarding someone they don't know well. It may be similar to how I was forever explaining to people (in my music-making days) that just because I had dyed my hair blue or whatever, that did not mean that the band I played in was a punk band.

Marie: Thanks for the boost. It probably took me a long time to get to where my voice was a comfortable place to write from, but I wasn't really aware of a process taking place or anything.

Anonymous said...

Most often when I tell business peers about my fiction writing, their eyebrows go up and then they say something like: "Yeah. I've always wanted to write a book."

And I'm tempted to answer back: "Well, just freakin' do it, then!"

Sundry said...

Very interesting, this conversation on different styles of writing. Me too. I think my blog is actually a lot more like my personal speaking style than most of my writing. One of the reasons I think I've kept the blog up is that I hope to one day be able to integrate a bit of the lightness of it into my fiction. I think one of the problems with my first novel is that I got into "novel voice." All serious. How come I make people laugh in real life, but my characters are so blinking serious?