By Brandyn Parker
It is an unquestionable fact that the literary producer must possess a respectable vocabulary to effectively display the painfully specific contents of his or her imagination. 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.
Many writers, to avoid the dumbfounded scrutiny that may arise from this, feel the need to verbally castrate themselves so as to be understood by colloquial speakers. Telling a minimum wage worker about how you felt it incumbent upon yourself to reproach management about the lack of funds on your most recent paycheck or about how the doltish expression on an irate customer’s face caused you to bellow with laughter, will likely evoke a sense of incertitude from the receiving participant. With that being said, many writers will discover there is a feeling of guilt that consumes us whenever we voluntarily—or involuntarily—adopt the standard jargon of a community and engage in the recommended form of degenerative speech.
Now, before I continue, I would like to point out that there is a distinct difference between a literary producer who consciously retracts his vocabulary so as to be appropriately comprehended by certain groups of people and those who unknowingly and unrestrainedly sink into a low or middle-class patois whenever 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 reasons of adaptability. And the latter tends to essentially lose themselves in a word exchange to the point where they abandon the basic principals of 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 which one does not inhabit can cause a person to feel rootless, as though they have utterly contradicted their very existence. It is completely normal, however, to feel the unconscious need to adapt to a particular situation; it is in our human nature to have the desire to be liked—a fact that should be regarded before assuming a private display of penitence.
No matter how intelligent, renowned or successful a writer is, you will not see him or her using highly decorated language when speaking with a toddler. Such a thing would be irrational, and irrational still should the toddler be superseded with, for instance, a pants-sagging thug or a pierced and tattooed Gigi Allin fan. What ought to be practiced—and what is practiced among reasonable adults—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 punk or thug or common low-skill civilian, it is an absolute necessity for a student of fiction. A true 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 abandon their articulate nature, I am simply noting that they should do everything within their power, within reason, to render themselves receptive to all forms of engagement—with any and everybody from every type of cloth. Allow your first bearing to default at fluent, but cultivate the wits to communicate effectively and alter your comportment—again, within reason—to suit the situation in which you are observing.
A professional clown does not go about his everyday life immersed in the childish indulgences of that which he is employed, 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 our writings are birthed from a wide variety of different classes and social backgrounds, and it is in these spontaneous exchanges that we subconsciously accrue our 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 what level of the social hierarchy you’re on, 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 writings—and human decency if you happen to be a moralist.