"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

A Way with Words … Not Have Way

Do our words make sense?

As a writer you hope to resonate with your audience. You want to capture lightning in a bottle. Kind of like winning the lottery … with words. Maybe you hope the post or article you write goes “viral” on the internet. Or perhaps your goal is to write the next Great American Novel, like To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee, the author of that book – considered to be one of the greatest works of American Literature – only published that one work.

Most of us aren’t looking to hit it big, or grab attention, in the way of “What Does the Fox Say?” or to be the guy who geeked out on national television during the recent Alabama/LSU football game (Roll Tide, BTW!):

lsu, fan, dinosaur, zombie, viral words

The bottom line is you want to be able to communicate what you want to say.

You Can’t Be Someone Else

It may or may not be about tapping into deep thought (as you know, I seldom go there). For my friend, Megan DaGata, the words are very important to let people know how she feels and what she wants you to think about. Reading her work is sometimes like ripping a band-aid off – feeling momentary pain that starts the healing. That’s really good writing, even if you feel uncomfortable coming face-to-face with the message.

Try as I might, I can’t write with the depth and superb word choice of someone like my wife – a lifelong communicator in television, radio, and print – who recently started her own blog, Ocean On My Mind. Nor can I draw a reader in with the emotion and word-weaving of the talented Andra Watkins, one of my favorite writers/bloggers who puts out great stuff daily. I don’t know how she does it.

However, we do want to feel like we’ve connected with what we say and how we say it. I’ve found over the past two years of blogging and writing that I’m not serious much of the time or lol-funny – like Tori, at The Ramblings – very often. I write who I am. And that’s where we need to be as writers.

The bottom line is it’s how we say it in our own voice that attracts readers to what we have to say.

Now that I think about it, maybe I’m not explaining what I mean as well as I could, so I’ll leave you with a favorite quote from one of the greatest stand-up comics of our day:

“Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way.”
― Steve Martin

Comments

  1. You hit the nail with this one today, MJ. So today you have a way with words; tomorrow, you may not have way.

  2. Excellent reminder. Thanks. I recently polled my readers about continuing my blog. One comment was–essentially–write for yourself, not for others. I translated it as follows: “Your blog sucks and no one else reads it. Good luck.”

  3. Sometimes I’d like to be one of the writers who can touch people with everything I write…but I think that takes more focus than I’ll ever be able to find.

    Couldn’t agree more with the Steve Martin quote. Sometimes I wish I didn’t fall into the ‘not have way’ category as often as I do though.

    And…finally, in the sleep deprived, Thor overloaded brain of mine…yay! Two posts in about a week. Keep up the good work, MJ. :)

    Oops…not finally. I’d have been the first person to comment, except I was in the middle of getting ready to have my ears assaulted at the theater, so I had to wait to post until I got home. Good news though. If I ever feared I’d be rid of the ringing in my ears, after that couple of hours, I won’t have to worry about that again. (am I the only person who sits there looking like an idiot plugging her ears during the exceptionally loud scenes?):D :D :D

    • Ditto on the more focus than I’ll ever be able to find. That’s why I’ve written so little over the past year … just couldn’t focus properly. Thanks for the support on the two recent posts – I’m prolific now! ;)

      You’re cracking me up about Thor. I’m so looking forward to that movie. How was it? The trailer looked great. And you’re right about the volume in the theater. It’s just that you pretty much have to have it for super-hero movies. Right?? :)

      • Other than really loud? ;)

        It was really good. There were some hilarious moments, some that left me a little ticked off, and some that are making me wonder what’s going to happen in the next one. It also made me like Loki even more than I did before…and that was already too much given that he’s the bad guy. :)

        You’re spot on about having to be a super-heroes fan, but I have to say that unless it’s another Avengers movie, I might just wait and rent the rest of them. :)

        • Well, we shall have to see that then. We, too, are Thor fans. Not a big fan of his brother, though. I’m a big fan of the humor in today’s super-hero movies. I know, shocking, right?

          I think they’re much better in the theater vs. waiting for the DVD.

  4. This was a timely post. I have been struggling at starting my book. I think you have pinned my problem. I’m so in awe of many great writers that I feel almost inept in comparison. The writing for my blog flows easily, and so this book should too. I am going to quit thinking about how it should be written, and just write like I blog.

    • You have nothing to worry about, Lori. Your writing and storytelling are superb, my Bugeater friend. No one can write your stories like you do, with your voice. Looking forward to reading your book when it comes out. :)

  5. Thank you MJ! I do have band aid ripping moments. :) I like your voice and your guidance toward other writers worth reading! Like you and your friend I hope I get to see Thor soon! But I might wait for the DVD.

  6. If I heard the lyrics correctly, there’s a pretty profound rap song that says something about how “You gotta do you, boo”. More importantly, we can’t stop changing all the time. I remember the first serious post I put on my blog. I fretted and fretted because I knew readers expected a joke and what I put in front of them was frustration and a little sadness. They liked it though (or at least responded) because I think they knew that I meant it, that it was honest, that it was just where I was at the moment. We like reading about YOU, regardless of niche, so write on, dude!

    • I must say, it means a lot coming from “T-Yo.” You do a great job being you, and that’s what resonates with your readers.

      I’m not familiar with the rap jingle you mentioned, but my friend Eminem said it similarly in “Till I Collapse”:

      “Till I collapse I’m spilling these raps long as you feel ‘em
      Till the day that I drop you’ll never say that I’m not killing them
      ‘Cause when I am not then I’ma stop penning ‘em”

  7. Made me laugh. That’s always a good thing on a Monday morning.

  8. I think all new (and un- or small-published) writers contend with an inner editor who tells them they’re not good enough. WRONG! If you want to write, you should write. Perhaps you won’t touch millions, but the ones you do touch will be appreciative.

    By the way, as an Ole Miss gal, I’m just gonna overlook your “Roll Tide” comment, ‘k?? While I *hate* LSU, it’s possible that I hate ‘Bama even more — such is the dilemma of being sandwiched between powerhouse schools. Sigh.

    • So glad you let the ‘Bama comment slied, Debbie. :) It’s a nod to my lovely bride, who is an Alabama native. Personally, I’ve always liked Ole Miss, and was a big Archie Manning fan.

      I agree with you about writing – it should be fun to write, and if the audience follows, that’s a bonus.

  9. Funny reading this now as I stare at my computer screen with writers block and 2 deadlines looming! Glad to have you back, MJ!

    • That’s great that you have two deadlines, Marcia! You’re doing so well – I’ve admired your progression as a writer and humorist. I’m so happy for you, MM. Keep up the great work.

  10. Well said, MJ!

  11. I was randomly checking on blogs I have not seen up for a while. Glad to see you are back. I’ll check in more often, now. Hope all is well there. Too much serious thought or too many laughs need balance of each other. Then there is sarcasm…
    Oscar

    • Hey Oscar, hope your holiday season is going well. Great to virtually see you again. Yeah, I’ve been away for awhile, my friend. I’m totally with you on the sarcasm! :)

  12. To be honest, I’ve been cherishing hope that one day my inner voice will stop criticizing me. Yet, this never happened)) At the same time, my own criticism prepared me for some negative remarks concerning my writing. The ability to respond to criticism appropriately is an important skill which I’m still trying to learn))

    • Diane, thank you for baring your soul about your writing. I think it’s fair to evaluate where your writing is, but definitely don’t beat yourself up and over-think it. Just be yourself and grow.

  13. You are a wise man, MJ.
    And that’s all I have to say about that.

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