Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More Fun With Words

Last week, when I wrote about how blogging has changed the way I write, some folks were probably wondering how someone could write to, well...no one, for more than three decades. Hard to say… I’ve always been a decent writer. A few wonderful teachers in high school recognized my talent and nurtured it. But I wasn’t used to being recognized or nurtured; ultimately, my life didn’t go in a direction where my literary talent was going to get a whole lot of exercise. Even so, I never outgrew feeling that it was easier for me to write what I meant than to say it. I got quite a rep as a note-scribbler. At my little bakery, my crew used to roll their eyes and sigh every time a two-page hand-written missive was posted on the bulletin board. It wasn’t a terribly effective means of business communication, but at least it was communication. Let’s just say, it met with mixed results.

As I said, though, blogging has been a whole different experience. It has been challenging, exhilarating, intimidating and liberating all at the same time. And what a stretching exercise! I’m sure I’m learning things about writing that I would have learned way back when, had I taken my talent to the next level of education. Here I am, fifty years old, discovering by trial and error things that a twenty-year-old college student got out of a textbook in Writing 101. So I’m a bit of a late bloomer…. What can I say?

But my writing isn’t the only thing that has been undergoing a metamorphosis. I have found that my increased attention to words, and how to put them together, has changed the way I talk. I’ll be having an intense discussion with my husband or one of my sisters, and something so creatively metaphorical will burst out of my mouth that I almost turn around to see who said it. Have you ever been watching your favorite TV drama, and a character will come out with some eloquent soliloquy, very emotive, very poetic…and you screw up your face and say, “Oh, come on…people don’t really talk like that!”

I don’t know…maybe they do. At least, maybe the guys who write the scripts do, so they think everybody else must, too. Because that fascination with language doesn’t seem to be something you can turn on and off at will. It just becomes part of you. Time was, I despaired that my vocabulary had dwindled to about a dozen favorite words. If someone told me a sad story, I was more than likely to emote, “Wow! That sucks!” or something equally juvenile. The other day, my sister was venting about her husband, and how he had dredged up some old wound in a fight they were having; and I said to her, I kid you not, “You live with someone long enough, and you learn a lot about them. You can either use that information to cherish them, or you can use it to push their buttons. Unfortunately, some people choose the latter.” Now, that’s not particularly eloquent or literarily significant, but it is about two dozen more words than my response would have been, say, three years ago. Earlier that same day, I was having a discussion with my husband, trying to describe the unbreakable connection I seem to have with my dysfunctional family. I blurted, “Sometimes it feels like a safety belt, and sometimes, like a garrote.” I actually said that. It came out of my mouth, I swear to God. Whoa.

Who knows where this will lead? Either I will soar to new heights of improved communication with my fellow human beings, or I’ll be branded a hopeless snob, intentionally unintelligible to the unwashed masses. I may find that my days of eloquent utterances are numbered; because in a very short time, no one will be speaking to me anymore. This should be an interesting ride…


Robbie said...

Surely, only good could come from it unless of course you continue to call us "unwashed masses." It's late in the day, but I did bathe.

Your entry about descriptive language reminded me of a book I read years ago called "The Language of Love." I'm not sure it helped me with the love aspect but it really helped me in being descriptive in order to express a point. Here's a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1561790206/qid=1144819736/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-7520433-4173755?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

emmapeelDallas said...

I predict you'll soar to new heights...no question about it!



Globetrotter said...

I adore people that speak their mind. I always have... which is probably why I have so few friends, lol!

I've gotten better at gagging myself over the last few years, however. My "Who would Jesus Vote for?" and "Hope the Rapture Comes Soon!" diatribe that I sent out to all my relatives , friends and real estate clients pretty much assured that I'd have very few people attending my funeral let alone future clients. It also taught me a lesson about trying to be more sensitive about what I say to people who don't share my political beliefs.

I love your writing style and get quite a few chuckles out of your way with words. Having 'joints stuck with foam insulation' comes to recent mind:)

And the garotte/ seat belt comparison was quite apropos if your family is as dysfunctional as mine.