Developing a voice amid the chatter

Today, I thought a lot about voice, how I use mine, and what I want to say, in relation to what everyone else uses theirs to say, and how they go about doing so. (I will not equate voice to style here — that would have to be an entirely separate post, but likely won’t be.)

Does anyone else feel like the internet has turned writing into something much different and kind of worse than what it used to be? I feel that way a lot of the time. I enjoy reading novels about writers in different times, and thinking about both the author and his writer character and how the two are reflections of each other (see: Tropic of Cancer). When I think about those stories, I am left to think that it is too easy to be a writer today. The internet creates a low barrier for entry when it comes to the written word, and it seems like most people think literacy is equivalent to knowing how to use language.

I think of all the writers I admire, and how they clearly thought about their words, instead of just their stories. But much of what I read online focuses too often on the story, rather than the craftsmanship and effort required to make words dance on a page. I am not claiming I make words dance on pages, but I am acknowledging that it is possible, and that it is what I strive to one day be able to achieve. I do feel like this problem is more prominent in fiction and poetry, but I am going to stay general in this post, in fear of spiraling into too many specifics and having my point lost (to myself as much as to others).

I feel like much of what I read on the internet is a complete abuse of the English language. I do not feel that I read much quality writing online, and I think many people who want to write do not respect the language in which they are writing — ESPECIALLY if it is their first language.

I have been moved by pieces of writing. I take notes on things I read that are precise in describing something larger than the compilation of their words. None of these passages were in self-published books or blogs. Feeling this way, I hate that I have a blog — I insist it is a mere sketchpad — but I really don’t know how else to try engage with the writing community as someone who is aiming to learn and improve.

I seldom admire the work of others outside of what I see officially published, and I seldom feel I receive useful criticism of my work. This is not always the case (I have had people say very insightful and helpful things about my writing, and I appreciate it —more than I can accurately express—every single time.) But I don’t know—  I want so badly to improve that it hurts when it seems like other writers don’t take language as seriously. I also want so badly to be eclipsed by the writing of others who are within my reach. I want to respect my peers and to learn from them. I want to feel like someone else out there cares about word choice and punctuation in a way that keeps them up at night. I don’t think this is too much to ask from those who call themselves writers.

I would like to wrap up this essay, by saying that I do not think I am much of an essayist — I think I am more of a poet and fiction writer, if I can allow myself (just this once) to be bold enough to state that. I put a lot of thought into things I write, and the words I choose, and how those words can be misinterpreted by a reader. I like looking up words before I use them, to see if I am using all three of one word’s definitions in a way that has a nice, overall meaning, regardless of which definition the reader (if there is one) is thinking about when they read what I wrote. I do not know if I do this enough, or if I am at all successful at it, but this is what I strive to do.

I don’t know how often people think deeply about what they read, and I don’t think anyone has much of a reason to think deeply about what I am saying — mine is just one small voice in a sea of muffled voices — but I try to use my voice thoughtfully, and consider what I am trying to say, and have it always mean something important to me, while respecting the English language as the medium through which this all happens.

So I will not apologize to anyone at the end of this because this is not my first language. This is my language, and I hope my voice can do it justice.


Think about the organization of the words into the question and what the position of each word says about that question’s true meaning in addition to the definition of the words themselves, individually, and in combination, and the sounds and tones and intentions, as they are assumed, as they, the words, pass over tongue and teeth to tickle thousands of tiny hairs in two pairs of ears, both the listener’s and the speaker’s. Think about the limitations of answering fully and with confidence or at least without stuttering in real time without one complete moment of pause for clarity in which to not only prepare, but to consider all possible options and pros and cons and potential misinterpretations, of both the listener and the speaker and vice versa and with roles reversed, before making noises in response to the previous noises (now gone and without echo), which were made within similar limitations, but with the upper hand of prior knowledge and punctuation. Think about the increasing density of air over time as a room of any and all volumes is filled to burst by complete/utter silence ticking on, ticking on, and taking on a life all its own. Think about that silence broken, not by answers, right or wrong, but by the friction of physical shifts in the position of a body seeking comfort, and think about the collection of those shifts circulating faster and faster and combining with the silence to form a constant aching drone that further increases the pressure the air in the volume exerts on both bodies, unequally, but reciprocally, each second by each single second by each tick by single tick tick tick tick. Think about the continuously circling hands of an endless clock slowing to an almost-stop. Think about action over inaction and instead of words and in response to the words already spoken. Think about the fight or flight response. Think about the Big Questions – Life and Death – and Their Importance, and the increasing size of This Question and Its Importance in relation to those Big Questions and to Life Itself and Death Itself individually and Individuality and Making a Statement and a Good Impression and erase all that you thought and all you thought you knew. With this fresh slate, in a state of forced calm, turn the table – ‘Can you-’

And it’s repeated.

stream of consciousness ii

i don’t care i don’t care i don’t care i barely even try to care i barely even think about it except to respond to respond ever briefly with some words with little meaning to poke situations to bring emotions out of others out of others into situations where i feel where i offer where i emote none. No emotion no connection no deep meaning nothing none. I see it they don’t see it I see it they must see it they see it eventually and probably feel hurt or maybe betrayed or maybe tricked or maybe reciprocated nothings and I guess it is tricky but why did they try why did they care why did they bother why why why? I don’t know I can’t answer I can only say that I don’t try I barely try I rarely seldom if ever try because I don’t care and why would I care why would I try why should I be sad to see them go? Small interactions with tiny people people I keep tiny because I keep them far away I keep them far away because I don’t want them any closer I don’t feel a draw I don’t feel those feelings that I feel I would have to feel if I wanted to turn a nothing into a sweet something: the alchemy of love of mutual intrigue that turns strangers into lovers into more than that much more. But I don’t feel it I don’t feel it I don’t feel it I don’t care and I respond I put out words out there out of politeness – no out of boredom out of self-interested intrigue out of the fascination of poking bears out of a need to see what will happen when I feel nothing and they feel something but they feel something based on the nothing I put out if there’s something somewhere at all. It’s a trick of the mind of the interpretation of thinking that response means closeness and ignoring that availability means desperation and a means of passing time. I pass time I pass time I watch it pass me by, and I respond out of habit out of need out of ways to pass the time to pass the time just passing time just watching it float by. I feel nothing for no one for no ones I have kept at the distance of my phone just one small text away but so far from meaning so far from emotion so far from caring so far from me. Does that make me anyword? No. It makes them make believe a possibility that I did my part I played my part in by showing up by responding to by doing nothing more. I go out of my way none of the time and I ask for much of the same. There must be such a lack of human connection facing kids these days, that they would cling to a half extended hand and assume it’s charmed to meet them.

interpreted definitions

‘Pride’ is (at simultaneous, but different times) the smile in the corner of an eye when appreciation is heard by well-meaning ears, and the refusal to compromise on a decision already past-decided as infallible fact. ‘Fate’ is an understanding of cause and effect. ‘Right’ is the opposite of ‘wrong’ and ‘left;’ ‘left’ is the opposite of ‘right’ and ‘stayed.’ ‘Poetry’ is a lesson gift-wrapped in metaphor. A ‘riddle’ is an inefficient question. ‘Parenting’ is the sadness one feels while watching her kittens choose to play with trash when they have real toys. ‘Nihilism’ is a circle that exists in no directions. ‘Loneliness’ is trying to be bearable enough to get grandfathered into people’s lives and not succeeding in over seven billion failures of various size and importance. ‘Equality’ is a theoretical goal; ‘equal opportunity’ is a practical goal. ‘Somethink’ is a briefly entertained thought. ‘But you have everything’ are words that should never found between quotation marks. ‘Interpreting’ is self-assured way of saying ‘misunderstanding.’  

the fluid dynamics of language

Last text message stamps that turn from time to day to date watching fiction fabricate where love profession became kiss-sealed fate. Determining if terminal velocity has been accelerated passed at a change in change in distance greater than gravity while existing unknowing with respect to and with no respect for

space. A little bit too tipsy to the point of topsy turning. A little bit too little: a tiny chunk: a minuscule nibble. A finger in to test the waters, the temperature of misplaced tea. The temperature of a tepid day with higher than bearable levels of humidity for individual hairs to stay put in organized chaos. Chaos so chaotic it can only be described by a law, the second one, it’s fundamental thermodynamic the heating the cooling trying to contain to construct to solidify the abstract into the concrete so concrete so rigid so indifferent unemotional.

a poem

His soft soliloquy reflects a pantomime shadow puppet playing with wind. A pretty piece of palindromey that ends where it begins. A filament of dewdrop fame holds hopelessness where poems breathe. She picked a phrase with well-chose words to force an end in life’s reprieve. Mishappiness malformed to taunt a tethered wingèd wonder. Breezeblocks burning bayside bridges as wayward ways turn go asunder. Carthage careens carcinogens, yet erudite elders ever linger. He picked a peck of pickled peppers, yet ten on two he counts his fingers. The punishment of pundits jettisoning just because, is the same as fancy feminists pushing papers, burning bras. I suppose you can articulate just how indifference feels, by skinning yourselves two by two and shrugging off your squeals. Clandestine cloistered communists are cloying to and fro, but Marx’s timid tipping point will be turning years ago. His soft soliloquy reflects repeated for arrhythmia affectless. The moon projecting painted scenes with dimly darkened arabesqueses. A misty mossy happenstance of creatures where they fall. The killer queen who stole her crown forewarned but not forestalled. Blink and blow and blind your beams: the sight is for the singeing. Sopping sipping flopping flipping: an open door not worth unhinging. Blue-battered burning bridges the echo is obtained concretely. An abstract rhyme with blood-schemed whisky that coats a love found indiscreetly. I clipped and clopped but still I found coalescing doe-eyed dreaming. Read forwards backwards side to side produced intrinsic hoped for unplanned theming.

open to interpretation

Well-meaning metaphors turned tactless when read between split hairs.
Subjective language’s flimsy foundation: misobscured and hyperbeared.
A muse is blushing: intentions not unclouding down-pointed eyes.
A reader is bored: wordplay availing only undisguise.
Overcomplisimplifications: polar opposites’ portmanteau to a greater power
And here the writer thought she thought of all potential points of pseudofailure