Chop Suey and A Baby Grand

I’m not a good conversationalist. I will go so far as to say I’m a terrible conversationalist. I think AS I speak, not before. Also thankfully not after. I think and speak on the fly. I have an idea of what I want to communicate and off I go. I don’t know if this is any different from everybody else, but I recognise that this is what I do. I tend to say things that can be misinterpreted as a result. Or open myself to innuendo. I know of some people who are slow to respond because they think about what (and perhaps even how) they’re going to say before they say it. It would be wonderful to do this, but the only time I manage it is when I’m writing.

The way I think when I’m at a keyboard punching out keys and creating words on the screen is far removed from the way I think when I’m talking.   It’s so different, that I can’t even call it apples and oranges.  Apples and oranges are both fruit.  They’re both food items that are healthy for you.  They both grow on trees.  Most cliches work really well, this one doesn’t.  So I’ll make up my own.  It’s like chop suey and a baby grand.  There is only one thing that brings those two things together: chopsticks.

When I talk, it’s like I’m shovelling chop suey into my mouth (using chopsticks) at an alarming rate.  So fast that I can barely chew and swallow.  I have very little time to ponder my words and digest how they’ll be received.  To my credit, I’m only like this when I’m excited or flustered, but I can get excited or flustered easily.

When I write, it’s like I’m playing ‘chopsticks’ on a baby grand.  It’s not a slow piece of music, but it does have a measured, constant pace.  When I write, all my emotions drop to a low rumble at the back of my brain and I  can just get on with it.  I usually write quickly, because I’m reporting a visual scene that plays in my head.  Vivid colour, sound and emotions play out so that I’m more of a transcriber for my imagination and less like a poet or creator of words.  I document my fiction, like raw data.  Then I go through afterwards and expand on the things that need more heart.

Is this process used by everyone?  I don’t think so, but I know it’s not original.  I’ve read a few author’s non-fiction books on writing that admit they create this way.  So it’s certainly a recognised method.

So why don’t I talk like I write?  How come is it I can’t leave my emotions on the back-burner when I’m talking?  What is it that face-to-face communication changes in me?  I feel like the real me when I’m writing, which is weird, if I’m just a transcriber like I say I am.  I guess I don’t feel like an excitable, flustered kind of person.  I identify myself as a writer, and when I write, I’m relaxed.

And that’s good enough for me.


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