Voice & Style

15230654_10157851245340574_8384833752237177444_nIn my writing adventures, learning theory and demonstrating new knowledge in practice, I have been educated in several important elements to writing in which I was either unaware of said element or unaware of its universal application. By the latter, I mean how a tool or mechanic in writing fiction or poetry can be used in the same ways in non fiction essays, biographies and instruction. Some of these are more subtle than others, going largely unnoticed but still appreciated by the reader (and sometimes, perhaps, the writer), whereas others are obvious and aid us to appreciate a passage of text as fluid, coherent and embodying a core purpose.

Being naive and often flippant in my own writing across most mediums, I had not considered how a writer’s ‘voice’ is present in their writing, and across their works. I had gathered that a distinct ‘style’ of writing can be detected, regardless of whether the text is fiction or non fiction, but had not considered that part of that style is the voice in which the reader hears when reading a body of work. Given that recently the majority of text I have read has been of an analytic nature, I have learned that in many cases an author’s voice can be construed, in non-fiction just as well as fiction, regardless of the purpose of the text if enough of said author’s content is read. In my study of language, Trask and Chomsky have proven to be amusing – certainly not in the subject matter, but in the way they inform and elaborate on their subjects: their voice.

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Now at what point does this get interesting to you – my reader? Well, the names I’ve dropped are of little significance here and are purely anecdotal. The point I’m seeking to make is that I have become aware of the presence of my own voice as a writer (title pending). Perhaps ‘existence’ is more appropriate than ‘presence’, as I am starting to wonder how much of a voice, and subsequently style, my existing publications (blog posts) emanate. In truth, I am confident it is present and growing in form (which is encouraging). However, in much the same way a writer is their own worst critique, I find myself comparing the style to other authors who have already established themselves and see striking difference in delivery. While being different is far from being a bad thing, one must consider how that voice will be heard and the style received.

For a practical example, let’s look at this blog entry. Sure, if my reader is an English or Creative Writing student, or perhaps someone with an interest in language study or a novice writer, then perhaps I have already captured their attention with some content – but what about those who do not fall into those categories (hereby referred to as the royal ‘They’)? Have I bored them already? *close tab, continue scrolling social media*

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If I haven’t (thank you for sticking with me!), then why are They still reading on? Assuming that it isn’t through prior relation to me or inability to leave without completing what They have started, one would assume that the style in which I have composed the post in, and the voice I am conveying through black and white print has been entertaining enough to warrant reading on. This, obviously, is a vital concept to consider when trying to make a career in writing; be it in journalism, fiction, non-fiction, historical reports, sales pitches, etc.

Taking a step back to look at my style and voice in a more general light , it’s hard for me to immediately ascertain what makes them what they are. I have not been shy in admitting that I write reasonably freely, without much hesitation or editing beyond an occasional grammatical correction and often inebriated to some degree (fun fact: not tonight). I feel, and have been told as much, that this gives a very personal touch to my work. I imagine for those reading this who know me personally may hear my own voice when reading my words because of this (and if you weren’t, perhaps you will now).  My concern is that perhaps it is too personal to be interpreted as favorably by someone alien to me. Perhaps it goes so far as to be offensive or irritating to others. It makes little difference to me if it does, as I quite like the idea that I have a voice that can get under the skin of some and into the hearts of others. However, understanding one’s resources proves vital in using them most effectively.

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I’ve babbled for quite a while, haven’t I? Oh, look here, that’s another thing I tend to do, isn’t it? I prefer to, and do, write very colloquially on the most part (accompanied by a growing armory of GIFs). That can certainly be said for my writing style:

I use a colloquial writing style to empower my voice, with the aim to ‘reach out and grab you’. 

Sounds fancy enough, right?

 

Listening To: The New America – Bad Religion

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Image Source: Google Images, Giphy

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Not Good Enough

The power in the impact from such a phrase relies heavily upon the source. Is there credibility to that source? Is it from someone you know, like, and or respect; or not? Is it from yourself (same aforementioned fields applied)?

s-shea-wong-writers-block-i-got-nothingOne of the difficulties in writing is that, particularly for longer projects, one works in isolation without the feedback or input of anyone else. That means that there is potentially quite a long time to wonder ‘What the fuck am I doing this for? Is this actually any good?’ This (I’m told) is natural.

In the feedback I have received in my admittedly short time writing in various mediums, I have found encouragement without which I never would have found myself in university. As alluded, this does mean I have had mainly positive and supportive assessments of my work and abilities. However, in an environment such as this I am subject to a higher volume of feedback – and therefore criticism. In receiving my first graded assignments, I have had any kind of illusion that I am merely here to have my ego stroked shattered. This isn’t to say the grades have been bad (it’s a pass/fail year anyway), but in my last returned assignment the critique got under my skin a little. Comparatively, it was  also graded the weakest despite being what seemed to be the easiest assignment.

classroomAm I sounding arrogant yet? So cocksure I had this coming, perhaps? Maybe, but in all likelihood I don’t know, like or respect you – so your opinion is of little consequence (say sorry)…. Did that sting a little? Not a lot, but did you feel just a little venomous prick? That was the aim (you do, in fact, have my respect in reading thus far), and perhaps now you can feel a little empathy in reading on.

I suppose that I am a little confused in why a little conflict of opinion on my work has irked me so. The particular paper was an analysis of two works of poetry without any outside knowledge of author, context of published year, making it an essay on personal interpretation and contrast. My deduction is that being told that my analysis of the texts, supported my elaborated explanation and reference, was debunked on the basis it differed from what the poetry was actually about (and I still fail to see any evidence supporting the critical counter argument). Comments of this nature made up at least 70% of the feedback, and I feel that my writing has not benefited from the assignment a single iota. If anything, it has corrupted my belief in my written communication skills, and has me concerned for my other assignments awaiting their grade.

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Of course, this is one-sided. I have no doubt that, if challenged, this marker would have a little more to say in their defense than ‘you have misread this. This is what it actually alludes to. Here is no evidence to support this (probably some on Sparknotes though)‘ – but enough of that. The result is that I was left with a feeling of ‘not being good enough’ and having produced sub-par work. I have since shed this feeling, reasonably easily regarding the feedback itself (the marker has yet to earn my liking or literary respect), but less so from the emotional collateral damage any writer must undoubtedly feel in the earlier days or when being critiqued.

The story goes on. I have no time for self-doubt.

 

Listening To: The Getaway – Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Image Source: Google Images, Giphy

For More, Follow on Twitter or Facebook:

Twitter: Nobody Musings (@ajexmi)

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