Could I BE any Snarkier?

Since declaring my minor in writing, something has happened to me. All of my priorities seem to have changed, and I can’t decide if it’s for the better or not, but there has definitely been a shift in my goals. Previously, when I got asked about my career field ambitions, I would simply answer “something in marketing.” However, now my answer includes a caveat about working for a publishing house or a magazine or a newspaper on the business side. And yes, part of this recent addiction comes from my obsessive watching of Gilmore Girls reruns. Perhaps I’ll become the next Mitchum Huntzberger…with less of an attitude. But I’ve been drawn into the world of writing, and I know I do not want to leave it.

Mitchum Huntzberger at the Yale Daily News
Mitchum Huntzberger at the Yale Daily News

In the past month, I’ve joined the writing staff of a campus magazine and I recently applied to become an undergraduate editor of a major international business journal (fingers crossed I get accepted!) I’m just fascinated to delve deeper into literary worlds, although ironically my own writing is always one of my biggest struggles and certainly my most procrastinated task.

I think one of the reasons for this  is a lack of confidence in my own writing. As Jack in Burlesque (sorry for all the video references in this post…it’s obvious I spent a bit of time doing nothing over Spring Break. Hopefully you all also caught the Friends reference to Chandler in my title…) constantly claims about his music, “it’s not ready yet,” I feel the same sentiment with all of my writing. I’m a perfectionist, and until I can feel like the next Bronte, my works shall stay under wraps. I guess in most cases it’s just easier to claim you aren’t proud of your work in case everyone else thinks it sucks. It’s still so new to me to write anything for the entire world to see rather than just a professor.

On this note, exploring writing in a tone and voice other than professional and detached for research papers is a scary task, and it’s definitely something I have been struggling with. Anyone who has read my blog posts or articles or even spoken to me for more than two seconds knows that I exude sarcasm. Normally I’m proud of that voice, and I personally think it’s more entertaining to read (and I certainly find it more entertaining to write), but lately I’ve wanted to explore other tones and moods, rather than just a lighthearted or flippant tone.

My biggest struggle is finding a way to incorporate that sassy voice of mine in a toned down way fitting for other types of media. I do not want to eliminate my voice, because after all that’s who I am, but I know I need to find that balance between entertaining and serious, biting and understanding.

I gravitate towards the two types of writing I’m comfortable with: technical papers and opinionated pieces. But I have not spent enough time in the world of writing to know what other types of pieces I would like to attempt. I think fiction could be interesting, but not really appropriate for most classes (except this one). I like to write amusing little rhyming poems for my friends, but the thought of attempting actual poetry seems unreasonably daunting. I don’t even understand most poetry, so who am I to write about something I don’t know? Does anyone have any ideas on how I can expand my horizons while also keeping my personality in tact?

7 thoughts to “Could I BE any Snarkier?”

  1. Amy,

    Wow, I really loved your post, especially the first couple lines! I’m really excited for you that you’re starting to get deeper and deeper into literary worlds. Also, that’s awesome that you’re starting to write more for publications on campus and not just for you and a professor, like you said.

    To answer your concluding question, fiction is like REALLY fun. I don’ t know about you, but I often find myself just creating random scenarios and stories in my head (usually when daydreaming or in my actual dreams) that would be awesome if I wrote them down and turned them into an actual story. A game I did freshman year with my friend was “story time” where someone would suggest a topic and then the other person would start just rambling off a story about it. It’s really fun and you can get really creative and have your characters do whatever you want wherever—all the choices are yours. So if you want to get into fiction, let your imagination do it’s thing and run with it.

    One of my favorite stories I ever wrote was a product of this game which I called “Story Time,” and the topic was “cheese.” It’ll take to me too long to go into the details here, but if you’d like to hear about it I’d love to tell you.

    Good luck as you delve into different genres and explore your new voices!


  2. Hey Amy!

    Love what you’re trying to do with your writing. I think it’s a major challenge for us as writers to find our voice at all and what it is that makes it unique, so be excited and proud that you’ve already discovered your voice…and a very unique and fun one at that! But, I think you’re definitely smart to want to expand your voice and challenge yourself to adjust it to fit various mediums and audiences. That’s an exciting challenge! I would say that maybe you don’t have to change your voice as much as you think. I think there is room in journalism for both sarcasm and technical writing. Perhaps it’s about finding the right blend of technique and sarcasm, rather than discovering a totally new voice. Perhaps a great place to start is reading the writing of journalists you admire in magazines or newspapers. Then, maybe you could research and find some other writing they’ve done that’s maybe more informal and reveals their personality, like a blog! Find out how they adjust their voice to match the occasion. Good luck!

  3. Hey Amy!

    I know we were talking about this the other day, and from one sass-pot to another, I don’t think that you need to hide your natural voice in any piece of writing. To me, it’s not so much about being sarcastic as opposed to being smart and witty. While it will take on a new light in the different pieces you write, I don’t think you have to eliminate it.

    I know this might be a weird recommendation, but if you don’t already write in a journal, I would start. That’s where I let myself run wild and let my voice sing from on top of a freaking mountain. I think maybe by journaling and unleashing your voice with no repercussions then your other more academic writing might not need to be as sarcastic (although I’m not saying that adding your personality into your other writing is a bad thing). I just think it’s like exercising your tone, which is always a good thing.

  4. Hi Amy,
    Echoing what Louise and Christina said, I don’t think you should feel the need to remove your voice from any piece of writing. You’re right in saying that your sarcasm is interesting to read, because it allows your reader to get to know you a little bit.
    Toning down sarcasm can be a difficult task, though. This is what I often struggle with when writing lab reports and things (especially when it comes to reasons for error; I always want to write in some snarky comment about the equipment sucking or the girl working next to me spilling my reaction).
    The way I combat it is by letting it be as dripping with sarcasm as I want the first time around. Then, when it’s out of my system, I go back with an example piece of writing in mind. I think, “Is this something I would see in [insert magazine or journal here]?” If not, I change the wording.
    Although sometimes it’s good to throw in that unexpected joke or sarcastic line, just to keep it interesting. Good luck!

  5. Hi Amy!

    First off, as a dedicated Friends fan and Chandler Bing adorer (is that a word?), I appreciate your title. If your intention was that we read it in the Chandler-esque tone of voice with an emphasis on the “BE,” consider the title a success. And I love Gilmore Girls, too. A+ on the television references.
    I found your piece very relatable. I was particularly struck by this line: it’s “easier to claim you aren’t proud of your work in case everyone else thinks it sucks.” I think all writers experience self-doubt, and have told themself this at one point or another; I know I have. Labeling my work as “bad” is a way to protect myself from outside criticism. (Ironic because sometimes it’s only me doing the criticizing.)
    Overall, great work! I encourage you to find a balance between tones, but never lose your voice. It’s one thing I believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice in any writing.

  6. Just about everything in life can be improved with a healthy dose of sarcasm. It seems as though students are forced to change their stylistic choices on a fairly regular basis depending upon the academic discipline that they are writing for.

    Your post talked about something that I also struggle with. It is a tough decision for me to decide what the appropriate tone is in a piece, and whether or not I am allowed to take creative liberties with the assignment.

    For a class like Writing 220 though, take some creative liberties and be sure to let your voice trickle down through your writing. I’m in the other section for the gateway, so I have no idea what your voice may be, but take chances. It is refreshing to write with the occasional quippy line thrown into the mix, and most readers will appreciate the lighthearted tone that is often associated with sarcasm.

  7. Amy,

    Yes! I am pumping my fist in the air at the Friends reference–any excuse to mention Chandler Bing, of course, should be taken. Your references definitely add to your voice, in a very great way!

    As far as snarkiness goes, I understand being nervous about its reception by your readers. Sometimes we have to be serious in our writing, it’s just a fact of life, but that doesn’t have to be painful. My roommate is possibly the snarkiest person I know, so when she writes her academic papers, she inserts her “snark” in another color or in parentheses. This way she gets out all her thoughts quickly and painlessly, then she goes back and deletes any inappropriate comments she made along the way.

    The wonderful thing about writing is that we do it all the time. We post, we email. we journal, we text, we make lists, and it goes on and on. So, yippee! For every little thing you write in which you have to censor yourself, there are millions of things you will write that has your full and honest voice making it yours.

    I don’t want to make light of such a serious struggle, of course. Being who I am–an uncontrollable optimist– I couldn’t help but offer a pep talk. Having admitted my passion for positivity, I can tell you that I have such trouble negotiating tone and voice in my writing. So often, I am told that literature can’t be light and fluffy. So, how do I write? How do I ignore my tendency toward sunshine and rainbows? I still don’t know, but reading your post lets me know that I am not the only one navigating the line between was is “right” and what is “me”.

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