Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The orgin of my writing voice.

I ran into an essay by Kurt Vonnegut about style, and one of the points of advice got me to thinking. The point of advice went something like this. Vonnegut writes best when writing like the kid from Illinois he is. Joyce writes best when writing like a Dubliner. Twain Writes best when sounding like a man of the Mississippi. Ones orgin is the basis of their best writing voice. I haven't been able to think of an example refuting this. Saul Bellows sounds like a Jew from Chicago, and that is part of why he's so great. When I write I don't know what I sound like.
That's not a function of my writing being convoluted, though that has been a problem. I'm pretty sure it's more a function of my personal influences being so nebulous. I don't just write like a boy from the mountains of northern California, nor do I just write like a boy raised partly in Japan. My influences are such that my writing doesn't fit a single accepted form of prose. I have a weird way of speaking in which anachronisms from my parents generation, sentence structure from Japan, the earnest simple speak of the mountains, and the odd turns of phrase used in my voluminous reading are melded. It's hard for me to divine my influences.
One good example of this is simply in my speech. When talking I use lots of idioms that are antiquated. I don't realise no one has heard them. I always think them to be normal phrases, but am corrected, or met with a blank stare. This is how it is with weird little turns in my speech. I don't know what is odd. I know how other's speech differs from mine, but I sure as hell don't quite know what is up with mine. I look at all speech through the lens of what I've read and what I myself say. It's just natural.
It would be interesting if someone could pick out what was specifically different about the way I write or speak. I know a lot of what I write is either dull or constructed in a normal stylistic manner, but there's something there that isn't at parr. I suppose it's more odd that that is the way I speak too. The odd turns of phrase and awkward sentence structure pervade my speech.
If I figure out what's going on I'll let it be known, though this is rather unlikely.
until next rant.

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