Monday, April 4, 2016

On Writers and Talkers

"Writing is really very easy. Tap a vein and bleed onto the page. 
Everything else is just technical." - Derrick Jensen

Some people are natural-born talkers.

Fluidly and fluently, they express their thoughts out loud, reaching for words only to find them waiting on the the tips of their tongues, setting them free on a spoken breeze.

These types generally find the process of writing things down to be a bit cumbersome. Too slow. Too unwieldy. The words stick to the page - physical or digital - in a weighted-down way that loses their shimmering qualities and takes the fun out of discourse.

I think this is a lovely way to be.

"Writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public." - Paulo Coelho

But different are the gifts of the writers. We - for I dare to count myself among them - come at communicating from a divergent angle. We find our words not at the tips of our tongues but from a place much deeper inside, and we need time to let those thoughts slowly bubble up from within. Kind of like a good burp.

Putting our ideas down on paper is a vital step in the process of communication. We need to look them over, rearrange this bit and that, make sure that the pieces fit together just so. To blurt them out prematurely is to lose control over our meaning - there's no way to take back a spoken word and reshape it properly. Our writer's hearts feel a strong responsibility to get the word, the sentence, the whole paragraph right the first time.

This, too, is  a perfectly nice way to be.

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about but the inner music that 
words make." - Truman Capote

Now, certainly there are some ambidextrous types are clever enough to do both well. They find writing and talking to feel equally agreeable, and my hat is off to them.

And perhaps there are some interesting ways in which talkers feel misunderstood by writers. I'm open to that idea.

But what's on my mind today is the notion, often held by talkers, that writers should be able to talk in the same way that they write, if only they would put down their pencils long enough to do so.

Mmm. I see the logic in that idea. But we just don't work like that.

(And it's not that all writers are introverts, and all talkers are extroverts. The spectrum of social engagement preferences is a whole nother kettle of fish which I will not attempt to fry today.)

The simple truth is that writers talk differently than they write.

"Write a wise saying and your name will live forever." - Anonymous

We can't help it. Oh sure, we can carry on our fair share of chit-chat and conduct business just fine. But if you really want to pry under our hoods and get our thoughts about the deeper, more intricate aspects of life, we might not offer up a spectacular conversation. It's not that we aren't interested; we're just built for something different than the fire hose of oral speech.

So talkers, please don't take it personally when the writers in your life clam up a bit in face-to-face conversation. We're just wired that way.

And if you really want to know what a writer is thinking, you can always drop us a line.

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