Where do I find my voice?

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Sometimes I feel that I left my voice in graduate school. Perhaps I left it behind when I learned the German language. I wouldn’t say that I found my voice on my blog, though. My voice was found through four years of school in creative writing classes, and studying abroad in Germany where professors were not shy is saying, “no… that doesn’t work,” or “no, that doesn’t make sense.” A seemingly forbidden saying here in the United States because we so often dance around student’s feelings.

NaBloPoMo November 5th 2014 Prompt 

Do you feel you have found your voice on your blog? What techniques have you tried to develop your voice in your writing? What are some characteristics of your personality in your writing?

It seemed that for a long time I was told, “you sound something like Yoda when you write.” Oddly enough, I was told that by both English AND German professors! My sentences did not lead directly to the point, but rather danced around what they were trying to say. Perhaps I was swimming in a world of Alice and Wonderland when I wrote. I assume that came from my creative attempt of trying to leave the reader guessing or lingering in anticipation. Or perhaps by my Mom’s notorious way of creating a sentence, dancing around the facts until the very end. My Mom is also a creative writer. Graduate school helped me with that lengthyness, though. There, each word of my sentence was required to have a purpose. Filler words don’t exist.  Sentences must make clear statements without dancing around a fact. There are no “extra” words in grad school.

I assume the problem really arose when I learned German. Sentences in german can be paragraphs long and seem to never reach the point! Not only is the sentence structure completely flipped around, but it leaves an American’s brain grasping for the purpose of the sentences, because the verb doesn’t come until the end. “Gestern bin ich gerne wieder nach Berlin gereist, Translates to .. Yesterday, I would have happily traveled back to Berlin. TIME. MANNER. PLACE. The sentence structure that is drilled into young German student’s minds. I guess the confusion in German comes in the fact that the verb goes on the end. That means, that in whatever you are trying to say, the action, be it running, driving, speaking or otherwise isn’t mentioned until the very end of the sentence. Just imagine for a second; “yesterday, with my boyfriend under the willow tree with the picnic and the blue skies and my beloved dog and the wonderful feast he cooked….. we had a picnic and enjoyed the day.” What if English was like that? We’d all be driven crazy with anticipation. That habit, translated across into my english speaking on top of my already “nonsensical” love of the Lewis Carroll style, “Jabberwocky” type writing. I loved the style so much so, that in my study of English as a Second Language learning and phonetics, I wrote a paper on the sense of Carroll’s nonsense. We understand the poem, even though none of the words in the poem are real words! Needless to say, It has a strange effect on my English. It translated back to an even stranger effect to my near fluent German speaking back in 2012 when I was turning in papers as a Master’s Student in a German university flip flopping between Yoda English and Yoda German. Too much language confusion, there is.

I was reminded back in the states a few years later, that my subject and main point is to remain at the beginning of my sentence. There is no dragging the reader along. Succinct. Factual. Sentences. Are key to the modern reader who has an attention span of 3 seconds.

And with that, I admit, that finding my writing voice has been a delicate mixture of keeping my audience in mind while writing, and keeping the advice of creative writing instructors, reporters, good writers, novel writers, and angry college professors in my brain, AT ALL TIMES. Sometimes I do wonder if my own voice has been lost in the process.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

4 thoughts on “Where do I find my voice?

  1. feistyfyxe says:

    Shakespeare is an undisputed(for the most part), literary genius. Our American culture reveres Shakespeare! Shakespeare broke all the rules of grammatical snobbery, and was glorified for it! But in case you want to know, I dug up some fancy scholastic jargon to support my argument. Language is mutable – speak freely.

    ‘”…Languages vary greatly in the phrasal organization they allow, and in the order and means by which grammatical functions are realized. Word order may be more or less constrained, or almost completely free. In contrast the more abstract functional organization of languages varies comparatively little: languages with widely divergent phrasal organization nevertheless exhibit subject, object, and modifier properties that have been well-studied by traditional grammarians for centuries.”
    (Mary Dalrymple, John Lamping, Fernando Pereira, and Vijay Saraswat, “Overview and Introduction.” Semantics and Syntax in Lexical Functional Grammar: The Resource Logic Approach, ed. by Mary Dalrymple. The MIT Press, 1999) ‘

  2. Tanja Eiben says:

    As a non-academic reader who speaks both, English and German, I love your writing style, and I can’t wait for your next blog because I know it will be something else that I enjoy reading about. In fact you inspired me to write a little more in my own online postings and try and make them sound more interesting and adventurous, even if, so far, that only affects my facebook posts, lol!

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