First of all, this exercise was a lot more difficult than I’d anticipated. I figured my go-to sentence structure would jump out at me and follow all the conventions from the reading but…language is hard. I think I’ve taken for granted speaking and reading English my whole life and the natural sense of “oh, that sounds good,” because although I’ve absorbed years of English classes and all their wisdom, I never considered the real implications of periodic sentences and latinate diction and all these Important Writing Concepts until now. Anyway. I took a look at a recent essay I wrote this past spring term for English 325 (creative nonfiction) about running (the prompt was to write a meditation/reflective piece).
Discovery: I’m kind of a rambler. I like adding qualifiers to the end of my sentences, letting them linger on and on, adding more and more details that I really don’t need sometimes, like really Margot, end the sentence now, seriously, please, thanks. (see what I did there)
Okay, they’re not all that bad but I definitely noticed a pattern. A ton of my sentences were compound and simple – “Swimmers in designated lanes rush from one end of the pool to the other and the only word that comes to my mind is confined” and “I used to turn into a noodle a few times a week at a yoga studio in my hometown,” respectively. I found myself rarely using complex sentences – I think because this was a more personal essay, I used more independent clauses and tried to expand on specific details rather than use more formal cause/effect methods of argument. My syntax was closer than anything else I’ve written (at least for school) to the way I naturally speak, although the way I talk and the way I write are pretty distinct. My writing might very well be painful to read were it to resemble my speech in real life exactly. Yikes.
Given the subject and the style of essays we wrote in the class, I tried to find a balance in style somewhere between how I’d write a term paper and how I’d text my best friend. I do wonder how the changes in the way we communicate today (texting, twitter, facebook, even these blogs) and the ease with which we write short messages to each other will shape the way we write not only those messages but more formal pieces as well…