Writing vs Talking

Me likey talky-talky. 🙂

There’s a common misconception that writers, since we’re so verbose and even know what words like ‘verbose’ are (and if you’re reading this blog and don’t know what verbose means, maybe you shouldn’t be following this particular blog, eh? Or buy a dictionary and actually use it – ha.), that we also must be great speakers.  In a lot of instances, writers are great communicators; in others, we fail – um, miserably.  I, myself, LOVE to speak.  Ask anyone who knows me, anyone who has ever known me, or anyone who has ever met me – briefly, in passing, for any reason.  I’m what my great-grandmother used to call a “chatty Cathy.”  I will talk to anyone, anytime, for probably any reason; and I might let them get a word in edgewise, too – at some point, maybe.  Face it, I have, I have a big ass mouth and abso-fucking-lutely love to hear the sound of my own voice.  I’ve never been the writer who was considered shy or introverted (look at me in the spotlight, baby!!); personally, I don’t understand people who are that way.  Probably because it isn’t my nature.  But I do know quite a few who are.

Today, in one of my classes (I’m working toward my degree in funeral services – yes, I want to play dress-up Barbie with dead people for a living), I came across another writer (short stories in varies anthologies) that could have been my polar opposite – shy, introverted, uneasy speaking in public situations.  Watching this woman as she gave her speech (and I thought it was an easy one because it was about ourselves, and who knows us better than, well, us?) was a bit fucking painful difficult to watch.

I watched this girl with visible nerves clutch the podium she hid stood behind, her hands clenching and unclenching, as she spoke rambled in a trembling voice about her family, her hobbies, and what she liked and didn’t like.  While certainly not the worst speech of the class (we won’t discuss the guy who had a story about his 3rd cousin who was also his 5th great-aunt, or some shit like that), the girl scatter-brained leapfrogged from unrelated subject to unrelated subject, her thoughts spinning spewing out in no order.  Afterward I felt dirty disgusted less than interested in this person’s life or this person – period.

While I don’t expect people to be the most profound speakers, I do expect those who, when given time to prepare and a step-by-step set of directions idiot’s guide by the instructor on how to go about talking about one’s self comfortably, to be able to organize a topic as well known as one’s self.  But maybe I expect more out of people than I should?  The gods know I’ve been chastised criticized for how much patience I have with some people because I see something in them and expect to, eventually, get wring it out of them.  With so much input from the teacher and the addition of a topic that is so easy for everyone, I had high hopes.  I shouldn’t have.  Bane of the optimist, I suppose.
I spend most of my time around writers.  Some are published, some are pursuing publication, and others just write for the enjoyment of writing, but they are all writers.  I think I have, like, 4 friends who I spend time with on a semi-regular basis that aren’t writers; conclusions: A) I need more friends, or B) these other people aren’t as cool they suck because they aren’t writers. *blink, blink*

  Moving on….  Out of these friends, maybe two of them could be considered shy or introverted; they are the ones most likely out of us to sit back and watch a conversation happening rather than join it.  This in no way, however, makes them poorly spoken in any way.  As a matter of fact, when they do choose to participate in conversation, they are two of the best spoken individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.  They simply aren’t outspoken have big ass mouths like me.  But, while they are introverted, they can perform acts of public speaking – especially when given lead-in time to prepare and have a topic they are knowledgeable in.  So watching this other awkward writer, I realized that maybe all writers aren’t like those I know and love.

So my choices at this point are: A) diversify the types of writers I spend time around, maybe I need to find a few of the quintessential writers that stutter when they have to speak, etc?, and/or B) grin and nod and blow my brains out clap politely but be utterly let down after all, and/or C) become a miserable, grumpy elitist and disdain from the company of anyone except for those I deem fit.  Hmmmm….sort of like option C. *blink, blink*  
If you’re wondering what was the abso-fucking-lutely magnificent speech I gave, I can paraphrase it quickly as follows: I sat on the edge of the table at the front of the room; I did not hide behind the podium.  My words were as follows because we all know you come here time after time for my words, don’t you? *wink*:
“A connoisseur of fine words, melodramatic thespian, karaoke fiend, and gun-toting, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipper (careful, the hippy is armed!),  I’m a non-smoking Gemini…oh, wait, that’s my eHarmony profile…
“My name is Billie Brown, a.k.a. BB, a.k.a. B.C. Brown, a.k.a. the weirdo who writes, I’m the youngest of three girls.  I can tell you my parents were shocked when I showed up.  I mean, I came home in a cowboy outfit, in a blue blanket, to a blue room with bears playing baseball.  Should I also mention the fact that I’m an avid Cubs fan? Hmm….bears playing baseball nursery….Might be a connection?  I began writing when I was eight years old.  A good thing I took up that hobby rather than, say, singing since we’re pretty sure I started losing my hearing in my pre-teen years.  
“I wear hearing aids but, if I were to take them out, I could hear about one-quarter of you about half the time.  Imagine your life underwater, and you have an idea of what it’s like to hear like me.
“My life after high school was typical.  I married my high school sweetheart and moved as far away from here [Vincennes] as possible as fast as I could.  After about ten years of marriage, I realized (had it shoved in my face actually) that my husband was a dick, got a divorce and moved home.  But two great things happened during my marriage and time away.  A) I was introduced to karaoke.  The great thing about this is that I can sing as badly as I want/do and it doesn’t matter because people think the deaf girl rocks! haha And, B) I became a published author.  I have three novels to date and three short stories in collective anthologies.  I write epic fantasy (think kings, queens, wizards, and war) and paranormal mystery or contemporary sci-fi (extraordinary abilities meets COPS), and my short fiction published tends to be transgressive fiction.  If you don’t know what that is, it is basically protagonists who are, pretty much, the worst people you can imagine; or it deals with controversial topics like rape, incest, abuse, etc.
“As you can probably tell, I’m not shy or introverted.  I’m active in community theater in Lawrenceville and enjoy my time on stage.  However, I can appreciate solitude (because, let’s face it, writers are the least social creatures on the face of the planet; even when we are being social, we are sitting in a group, hunched over our own laptops/notebooks etc.), and I can appreciate the importance of the non-spoken word as much as those said.
“That’s me in a nutshell.  Thanks for listening; you’ve been a great audience.  Good night!”  And I walked back to my seat.
There were several instances when, since I am not a person who specializes in public speaking, I was so nervous that I had to remember to slow down my speech and not sound so much like a chipmunk on speed.  I also had to keep my hands from fluttering around like hummingbirds, but those were things that I knew I had to do.  Now, I’ve never had a speaking class before; I didn’t take speech in high school but, I know, that there are things I find painful when I watch someone talking in public.  So, therefore, I try to eliminate those items when I speak to people.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  But maybe there are many people who aren’t quite as observant as I am when it comes to their perceived/despised/repeated actions?  
Regardless, the point of this article today is just to point out the differences between being able to write and people who can speak.  Sometimes those writers and speakers are the same; other times, they are individuals who can write but choose to speak only infrequently; and lastly, there may be the stuttering, painful speakers who are brilliant writers but can’t make the connection of words that flow out of their fingertips to those that flow out of their mouths.  However, while there are many fantastic speakers out there, they do not, all of them, know how to write.  The awesome relationship between the two is, while there will always be speakers who can’t write, there will always be writers who can’t speak.  I, personally, don’t know what it’s like to be one of those writers, but now I do realize they are out there, whereas I thought they were the stereotype that didn’t actually exist.  Guess some do exist.