Thursday, May 2, 2013

Speaking vs. Writing: The Power of Word Choice and Editing

I'm not much of a talker. Part of it is because I don't always know the right thing to say, so it's safer just to be quiet and listen. Part of it is because I'm always thinking. When I'm awake there are about ten quintillion thoughts bouncing through my head:

Look there's a fork on the table you know what you can do with a fork you can stab someone's eye out with it THAT'S IT when the protagonist is trapped in the house with the killer he can use a fork as a primitive weapon and poke the killer to death so he can escape.


You know what I'd like to do I'd like to sell a MILLION books so I can move to the mountains and I can have a beautiful landscaped patio with a beautiful view of mountains and it will be isolated so no one will bother me and I can get up as late as I want to in the morning and drink my coffee sitting outside with my laptop and I can write and write and write and it will be awesome.

Writing is much easier for me than speaking. When I write, I tweak each sentence to perfection. I might edit a page twenty or more times until it is just right. And it takes time. LOTS of time. Sometimes I agonize over my word choice so much that I have to start praying, "God, help me out here! Please show me how to word this in a new and intriguing way!"

And it works.

Speaking, however, is a different story. When writing, my rough drafts are more worthy of lining the bottom of a bird cage than of being read. The final edited product usually bears little resemblance to the first draft. My problem with speaking is that in a way, the stuff that comes out of my mouth is a rough draft. It stinks. I can't write down every single conversation ahead of time and tweak it to perfection. Plus, I constantly jumble my words so that what comes out doesn't quite sound like English. I remember one embarrassing moment when I was telling my mother about one of my classmates. I said, "Our nockers are lext to each other."


Imagine the ensuing horror.

Other times I'll just flat-out say something in a way that other people interpret in a way I had never intended them to. Earlier this week I was telling my mother-in-law about all the yard work I've been doing lately. I said, "Yeah, I been goin' out at night with a flashlight 'n a shaker a salt so I can get ma slugs." (Clermont County accent added.) She gave me this My-God-what-is-wrong-with-you look and asked, "What are you doing with them?"

"Killing them!" I said. "Cuz they're killing all my plants!"

She had thought that I was gathering them to eat.


What I should have said was, "We currently have a slug infestation in our flowerbed. They are devouring our plants at an astonishing rate. I have been countering their attacks by going out at night with a flashlight and shaker of salt so I can dissolve them where they lay, thus saving my plants from certain consumption."

But I didn't say that. I opened my big mouth and blurted a string of gibberish like a dummy. Would that I could speak in a way that would never make one question my sanity!

(Word choice, Jenn. Word choice. It is a powerful thing.)

Random Internet cat cannot believe the occasional stupidity of the author. But hey, nobody's purrfect.


  1. This is me!!! I totally get where you're fromin' come. I often mentally post-edit my conversations and groan at my verbal blunderings. And I've edited this comment several times.

    1. I've post-edited conversations lots of times! Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone! :D