By: Brandyn Parker
It is an unquestionable fact that a legitimate writer must possess a respectable vocabulary to effectively display the contents of his or her imagination. Upon procuring a sizeable lexicon, many will discover that a large vocabulary invariably extends from the page into our everyday interactions. As a result, the average Joe either perceives dedicated writers to be verbally and intellectually showy in an exasperating way or–in more favorable circumstances–amusing in their colorful approach to trivial exchanges. Unfortunately, the former seems to be the case majority of the time, as the struggling writer is likely subjected to the constrictive pressures exuded by the ordinary civilian.
To improve the flow of interactions, many dedicated writers may feel the need to verbally restrict themselves to be understood by colloquial speakers. Telling your fellow minimum wage worker about how you “felt it incumbent upon yourself to reproach management about the lack of funds accrued on your most recent paycheck” or about how “the doltish expression on an irate customer’s face caused you to bellow enthusiastically,” is likely to evoke a sense of incertitude from the receiving party due to its unconventional flow in real world exchanges. When moderating this type of speech–writer talk, some may call it–many writers will experience a feeling of guilt whenever they lose themselves in the standard jargon of a community and engage in the recommended form of speech.
With this in mind, I would like to point out that there is a distinct difference between a writer who consciously retracts his excessive vocabulary so as to be adequately comprehended by certain groups of people and those who unknowingly and unrestrainedly sink into a low or middle-class patois whenever spontaneously presented with a topic of interest. The difference is that the former has the conscious capacity for eloquent speech, but actively restrains this skill for purposes of adaptability. And the latter tends to essentially lose themselves in a word exchange to the point where they abandon the basic principles of English and grammar in favor of the immediate satisfaction of a mutually enjoyable conversation.
Those who lose themselves in conversations inevitably end up feeling the most guilt during the post conversational reflection that occurs after a notable interaction. The feeling of being swept away and whirled around in a world—or in this case, lexicon—that one does not wish to inhabit can give rise to contradictory feelings. Conversely, it is completely normal to feel the unconscious need to adapt to a particular situation; it is in our human nature to have the desire to be liked by others—a fact that should be regarded before assuming a private display of penitence following the abandonment of literary speech.
No matter how intelligent, renowned, or successful a writer is, you will not see him or her use highly decorated language when speaking with a toddler. Such a thing would be irrational, and irrational still should the toddler be superseded by, for instance, an inner-city thug. What ought to be practiced, and what is practiced among experienced writers, is an initial engagement followed by an analysis of a person’s character, and a voluntary adaptation which ensures an unobstructed exchange of words.
No matter how much we may detest the idea of degenerating to a verbal level near the aforementioned thug or any other common civilian, it is an absolute necessity for a student of literature. A good writer would have long since realized that much research material can be derived from these petty exchanges. And when proceeding with these exchanges, one should not think: Damn, I am forced to labor under the pretense of mutual friendliness to this person, but: Marvelous! I get to observe first-hand the dialogue of a class of person of which I am not familiar.
While I’m not suggesting one should cast aside their natural way of speaking, I am simply noting that they should do everything within their power, within reason, to render themselves receptive to all forms of verbal engagement—with any and everybody from every walk of life. Allow your first impression to default as it is, but cultivate the wits to communicate effectively and alter your comportment—again, within reason—to suit the situation you are engaged in.
A professional clown does not go about his everyday life immersed in the childish indulgences of his employment, as he likely has the common sense necessary to activate and quell his powers at will—using them only when it is beneficial to him.
Characters in writings are birthed from a wide variety of different classes and social backgrounds; it is in these spontaneous exchanges that writers subconsciously accrue their knowledge about a particular group of people. The act of regularly observing and engaging in interactions with your peers will do nothing but expand your breadth as a writer.
Regardless of who you are or how extensive your vocabulary is, you will be presented with situations where it is necessary to shirk your verbal prowess. This will happen whether you are conscious or unconscious of it. The guilt can be eliminated, however, by proceeding with the notion that you are doing this of your own volition for the sake of tomorrow’s dialogue.