The other night while I was enjoying the outdoor fire, the stars, the trees, and the silence, I began to wonder about my writing and why it can come off as so pedantic, though I have a pretty good sense of humor (really!). I think my humor is more objectively contextual—I work off of the environment and others more than I do my own thinking. In any case, I was thinking about Renewal, this book I self-published more than six years ago. I wrote it as an exorcism of sorts when my mother passed away and I was forced to break-up with the last woman I had a chance of really getting together with. There wasn’t much funny about the circumstances, though there were some funny issues with the funk I was in, so the book was pretty devoid of humor.
In the spirit of needing some change and trying to flow with the waves presently around me, I thought I should re-write Renewal by adding sarcastic comments—sort of adopting the opposite approach. I’d have to have a pen name to attack this Gibbs fellow, though nothing but corn comes through yet.
Heck what I’ve been writing since—this blog, which is now about 340 pages and was to be the second book entitled Resolutions—could also be much improved by having an alter-ego make sarcastic comments about the pedantic style.
I like my serious side, but I also like my irrelevant side (not to infer that my serious side is relevant). I think it is easier for me to be irrelevant in public than in writing. In public one can self-correct if a caustic comment flops. In writing, I have no idea who is actually reading this stuff much less how it’s being taken, so I have little way to self-correct. The best thing may be to just make fun of myself.
On the other hand, maybe I’m limited in my scope because of my education—yeah, that’s it. I’ve noticed all the so-called rigor of logical and researched threads can have a dampening effect on humor. The rigor is of course necessary, but it is not sufficient—discipline is not more important than freedom, though discipline is a necessary component of freedom.
Maybe I’ll loosen up when and if I retire. I notice I have to stop myself in class a lot or it’s over the cliff I go. That’s fine if one is a comedian, but what is appropriately running off a cliff in comedy can be utterly inappropriate in the classroom. I can tell you I like both, but I’m more confined in the classroom than I’m comfortable with.
Another issue about my writing is the reflection of my internal dialogue. One of the complaints I have received about my style is all of the parenthetical notations (especially in the book—or right now). In speaking I also have a lot of parenthetical notations. My mind seems to work in constant editing mode. That method frees me to speak publicly because it allows me to self-correct. But I think I still need some practice on having the thoughts and feelings come out succinctly in the first place. In writing, I struggle with trying to put into words what I want to convey, but I have only myself to argue with. In any case, despite all of the needed practice, I write for myself as a way to force clarity. I practice talking to myself for the same reasons. Maybe that’s simply an excuse for releasing pent-up energy or maybe it’s just another reason for practicing the art, science, and psychology of language and communication.
I can tell you this: Finding the right words to reflect the right emotions/cognitions is in me like a rooted being leaning towards the light (I’m not saying I lean well). But we don’t need to have only one way of relating to all that is around us—that’s a bit compulsive. The light creates shadows and makes the dark relent, which in turn makes the light relent. As I appreciate the contrasts, so I guess I’ll have to find my other voice in writing, the one that is caustic, sarcastic, curmudgeonly, mischievous (I’m so not buying into just the negative definition of mischief—take that Webster, et al.!). And maybe in speaking I can let my voice be a bit more serious. Just a bit.