Voice

In most ways, my written language is unlike my spoken language. My arsenal of long words is far more limited or misused when I’m speaking, and my general inclination toward formal writing doesn’t carry over into the majority of my conversations. However, the approach with which I present an argument, observation, or thought is similar in both my written and spoken language. I tend to present an overall point, and, through its being either strange or audacious, hope that an explanation is begged. Despite the analogous approach, this practice manifests itself very differently in my writing than it does in conversation, where I might just pull something out of left field and see if it sticks.

My consistent propensity toward more formal composition—in sentence structure especially—is not particularly reflective of my own colloquial voice, but serves as a sort of grounded approach to which I can turn when faced with a prompt. Consequently, my writing may not indicate any particular, distinguishable personality behind it beyond perhaps an insistent individual with a handful of determined assertions. This difficulty in conveying an overt personality may be rooted in the types of topics I tend to choose: one’s which usually have nothing to do with me as an individual, and which are addressed much more expediently by being as objective-sounding as possible. I’ve found it difficult (and generally have not had the urge) to present myself as a personality while writing papers discussing historical documents, institutions, or contemporary social/political issues. Rather, I lean toward omitting passages in which I feel I conveyed too much of my own voice and desire to make the topics about which I write the main indicator of who I am.

If I had to guess how I acquired my voice, it is likely a byproduct of the environment I grew up in and the things which I have been exposed to—either deliberately or incidentally—since then. My dad has (and seems to have always had) a worldview that has been informed by as much information as he can get his hands on. He is an avid reader of the news, enjoys documentaries, and is no stranger to books. However, he never sought to impose a given viewpoint on me, but instead emphasized the importance of objectivity and wanted me to realize one’s beliefs should be grounded in an understanding of perspective, nuance, and reality rather than impulse or “because you were told to believe it.” With this lesson in mind, I have tried to view topics that interest me through as many lenses as possible, but, at the same time, such an approach may have limited my own voice coming through in my writing.

Leave a Reply