Friday, September 28, 2007

The Business of Being More Outspoken

I announced, in the previous post, my intention to gripe sooner when I feel that someone is treading upon me. And I find that's doing good things for me and my treaders.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to make that attitude do good things for my writing. Certainly it should--since the very essence of being outspoken is being overwhelmingly clear. And, in spite of lots of effort, I am easily misunderstood.

Half of me has been trying for years to overcome that problem, personally and professionally. The other half has been finding ways to sabotage the attempt.

For example, I recently decided to ramp up the volume in a stretch of pages. I successfully did so. Then I reread them after a lapse of time. I saw that what I'd done was to make all the scenes in the section uniformly loud and dramatic. As a result, nothing in the sequence has any emphasis and nothing stands out. I might as well not have bothered; a loud monotone is the same as a quiet monotone.

See what I mean by sabotage?

Well, I'm aiming to be through with this sabotage. I believe both halves of me are convinced.


Lisa Gates said...

Peggy, yup. It's that classic rubber band stretch you're doing, don't you think? I do it all the time; I'm not enough somewhere, so I go and be too much instead. Eventually we find our balance, but we wouldn't have gotten there if we hadn't gone to the extreme...our edge.

Thank you for your honesty, such a treat.

billie said...

I call it the pendulum effect, Peggy. It's part of making changes, and imo, not a bad thing if done with conscious intent.

Plus it's actually a very informative process to experience the extremes while making adjustments.

I'm impressed and inspired by your focus on this - it's sure to bring good things.

Debra Whaley said...

Peggy, I can see what you are saying about a loud monotone being the same as a quiet monotone. I suppose that when we are making changes, whether it be in real life or in writing, it takes a while for us to achieve that harmony.

It kind of reminds me of the earlier years of my marriage. My dear mother-in-law used to love to help herself to forkfuls of food from my plate without ever asking me if it was okay. Well, one night, my husband decided to be chivalrous and when he saw his mother helping herself to my food again, he spoke up. The only problem was that we were in a movie theater and she was sharing some of my popcorn. Appropriate time to share food, by a person who usually chose inappropriate times to do so. So, when my dear husband came to my defense, it sounded inappropriate because of his timing. What am I trying to say? I guess that sometimes context has a lot to do with how something appears, and so if you are inserting loud and dramatic scenes into places that are like "sharing someone's popcorn", the impact might not hit in the way that it would in a restaurant as a forkful of food launches its way off of one persons plate by way of someone else's fork!

Keep working on that balance. Like the reflex that I mentioned before, it may take a while for it to feel natural after not being exercised for a while!

Peggy said...

Thank you for this positive framing, Lisa, Billie, and Debra. I'm convinced.

So I'll just see which direction I swing or stretch today.

And to all: do go visit Lisa's blog, Design Your Writing Life, where she offers good counsel on an ongoing basis. The link is on my Inspiration blogroll.

And a question: how long does the pendulum period last?

Peggy said...

Also, I love the popcorn story. What a perfect example!

Debra Whaley said...


I will stop by Lisa's blog! It sounds very interesting! Thanks for the suggestion. I look forward to checking it out.

See you on your site, Lisa!

Peggy, have a great evening!

Debra Whaley said...


To add to the popcorn story, my husband just reminded me that before the movie, he politely asked his mother if she wanted something. She said "Oh no, I am still full from dinner." It was at that point that she decided to indulge in my popcorn, and he intervened. Maybe she thought that if she was eating from someone else's plate or popcorn container, the calories didn't matter? I suppose that's a WHOLE other set of issues! He did get a good chuckle out of my example...

Peggy said...

My husband always wants a bite of my coconut popsicle. I know the feeling. We've discussed the appropriate size of a bite off someone else's popsicle.

Debra Whaley said...

So glad that you understand what I mean!

Peggy said...

Your example is wonderfully clear, Debra.