Saturday, 17 May 2014

If only I could type up my conversations

Words are strange things.

When I'm sitting at my desk, fingers on the keyboard, it's like they're my best friends. I play with them, arranging and rearranging them in all sorts of interesting ways, till what I have is a story.

I think as a writer I'm not too bad. Maybe not to everybody's taste, but not too bad all the same. Within the context of writing, words and I seem to have a pretty good thing going.

But we don't always get on quite so well.

There are other situations where it's as if words don't like me at all. It's as if they exist solely to play tricks on me, and to trip me up. Those situations usually occur whenever I talk.

I'm absolutely terrible when it comes to talking. I open my mouth and I have no idea what is about to come out. In my mind, I have a perfect idea of what I want to say, but by the time the words are out, they often bear little resemblance to my original ideas. Other times, the word I want to say decides to disappear from my mind, leaving me tongue-tied and looking ridiculous. Sometimes, all that comes out is a garbled mess. At another times, nothing comes out at all. I just stand there, going "um, er, arrr," and various other unintelligible noises.

It's a real frustration, I can tell you. What is it about words that gives them such a Jekyll and Hyde personality, one minute so friendly and helpful and the next minute utter little devils? Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be anything I've got any control over. Which, as a writer, is the biggest frustration of all.

I wish talking was more like writing. I wish, with every conversation I was involved with, I could take my time to craft the words I wanted to say. Maybe give them several drafts, as well as a final proof before I send them out into the world.

Seems like a nice dream, but I guess I'm stuck with reality. Time to get back to my computer, where I can get the words to do exactly what I want them to. And if you have something to say to me, I'm afraid the best I can manage in reply is "um, er, arrrr."

1 comment:

  1. I went to a poetry reading on Friday. Marion McCready was launching her new book which was my sole reason for going. She was the only one I talked to at length; I spoke to one attendee briefly but only because Marion introduced us. She assured me I knew others there but none looked anything like their Facebook pictures. I jabbered. My wife tells me I tend to jabber when I’m nervous. I loathe events like these. I don’t know the rules. I, for example, arrived in timely fashion fifteen minutes before the official start time but most didn’t stroll in until a half hour later so the reading eventually started a half hour late. During this enforced waiting period I sat alone in the back row and spoke to no one; Marion and I chatted after the event. I didn’t say anything improper but I was aware our time was limited and felt the need to cram what I had to say—not that I’d planned to say anything—into the unknowable time available. So I jabbered. As the subject of humorous poetry cropped up I tried to recite an old poem about football hooliganism and made a complete dog’s breakfast of it, typically I went on about my health which she made light of because I look fine and I moaned about the non-existent sales of my last book all of which I wanted to take back.

    This is typical me. Writing is so much safer because every response, every single word, is considered and often for minutes at a time. This is why I hate authors like Oscar Wilde because no one—no one bar Wilde himself if his legend is anything to go by—could be as spontaneously witty and clever as his characters often are. In the real world we muck it up. We jabber. We forget our point. We digress. We get distracted. We say the wrong thing. We assume people know what we’re talking about. We imagine they can read our mind. Conversation in the real world is awful. It’s also mind-numbing dull most of the time. Much of the time we don’t talk about anything important or meaningful. We pass comments about what’s on the telly and ask if anyone wants a cup of coffee and gripe about work and the cost of living. We never talk about the meaning of life. Or how we feel, our hopes and fears. And we NEVER talk in complete sentences. Unless they’re very short.