There is a little boutique in the middle of town one of my daughters loves. Every time she comes to visit, we end up going to this quirky little dress shop.
Hanging in the window display was a beautiful blue blouse. Well, I’ll correct myself: a beautiful blouse. My daughter argued it was not blue. She said it was a beautiful green blouse.
She wears contacts and I wear glasses, we’re both corrected to 20/20, so it was a toss-up as to who was right. We consulted the dress shop owner, who, though she’s been helpful before, was no help now.
“It says ‘blue-green’ on the invoice,” she said with a shrug and a smile.
My daughter and I looked at it again.
“Blue,” I said.
“Green,” she said.
Impasse, we both agreed.
She saw green and I saw blue. As it turns out, we were both right.
We all view the world around us through different eyes. What I see may never be exactly what you see. It makes it very interesting to know you are viewing life in your own unique way and in a way no one else can.
Within the structure of my novels is the language of normal, every day people. What I didn’t take into account was what is normal to me (y’all back yet, don’t that beat all, how’s it going, you gonna eat that, etc.) may not be normal to others.
My language is common and somewhat regional. However, what is common and regional to me may be foreign to others. The same holds true with writing: what I consider stuffy and stiff may be normal language to some people.
I’m loose and free in my conversational skills and it reflects heavily in my writing. I talk like the everyman. I write the same way.
But, there in front of my face was the type of stilted writing I typically steer clear of. The dialogue between the characters was as if they were putting on airs. Their affected conversation sounded silly and pretentious.
I read a few comments on this little piece of writing and was very surprised to see some people (including two English professors and a linguistics major) were raving about how they loved the writing.
Eh, well, I could see that. These were people who preached “the word is the word” and lived in the world of proper language. Even though I’m an English major, I’ve often thought I was better suited for a Real World English degree.
A few more comments came in and these were from ordinary students. One was in biology, two were business students, and one was aiming for a major in whatever he had enough credits for by the time his funding ran out.
They echoed the education professionals: they loved the style of writing.
What the heck was going on? I looked at the excerpt again and still found the words lacking in warmth, sincerity and realism. I was a harsh critic, blunt where I’m usually kind and sharp where I’m typically gentle. After all, who is the best critic of one’s own writing but oneself?
I had written a short dialogue as an exercise in writing outside of my normal style. I was mimicking the stilted style I found unreal and unnatural. I was mocking what I, apparently, didn’t understand.
Like the real world, the world of writing is subject to the eye of the beholder. While I found this type of writing abnormal and uncomfortable, others did not see it that way.
I learned a lesson. What is not liked by one person is loved by another. Pickled herring is yucky to me, but I know plenty of people who swear by it.
On that day, I learned that green is blue and blue is green and I shouldn’t judge a book, even one of my own, by its cover.
Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch