Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Don't Mind Me Staring At You

So I don't usually use my blog to blog.... because well, that's too cliche and I'm too hipster I suppose.

But lately I've had an.... urge? Inkling? Desire? Thought? Eh, that thing.

To share what's on my mind.

Usually I do this through poetry and such.

But poetry is inaccessible to a lot of people

So here's my new attempt at connecting.

I've been thinking lately about communicating.

Like when two people want to get an idea or concept across.

And the levels we participate in the process

How we have something to say, and we say it and we like to think the other person hears us and then maybe responds.

But that's oversimplifying it and its only when the communication breaks down that we get to see the gears and clockwork running around underneath the normal plastic skin.

And its magnificent to catch a glimpse of.

And its terrifying to think that as a writer I have to recreate that.

Because communication is not just dialogue.

Its the small thinks we say without consciously thinking about it.

When someone sneezes and someone else says "bless you" automatically.

When someone says "thank you" and we automatically reply "you're welcome" or "no problem"

There's a plethora of those kinds of automatic functions that are so automatic that (a) we don't notice them and (b) they are so cliche that we have to gloss over them in writing because they can cause readers to lose interest.

One way I've seen successful writers deal with it is by simply paraphrasing the entire exchange, essentially glossing over the bits we'd gloss over anyway. And using the gloss as a tool for revealing what the narrator or characters view as important about another person.

Which brings us to another element of communication. Perception and Reception.

These two things are what drive the conversation forward and end in either successful communication or misunderstandings (often crucial for a plot as Shakespeare loved to show). But to either create an artificial successful or failed communication still requires that the perceptions of both people need to be somehow hinted at, somehow spelled out without spelling it out.

And the missed reception has to be subtle enough for an audience to catch but not necessarily so obvious that the other party in the conversation ought to see it.

And then there's the multiplicity of meanings that individuals have, their different interpretations and cultural backgrounds informing conversation.

It's all so much and sometimes it feels daunting.

Like how does an artist, a writer, bridge this massive gap that exists between two characters. Sure we spend so much time making them believable that hopefully having two fully formed characters in an elevator dropped form the top of Mt Everest will at least result in some dialogue that's believable.


Sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes the dialogue that comes out is so cliche and eye-rollingly painfull that it almost seems better to create a whole book of mute characters (go ahead, take the idea I don't have room for it right now).

But that is what I've been pondering.

I've decided to watch people talking more.

In bars. On the bus. At work.

How do they communicate.

What do they say? What DON'T they say? How does their nonverbal body language conversation differ from their verbal conversation? How can I incorporate all of these elements in a smooth and fast paced manner that will flow without breaking their ever shortening attention span?

It is difficult.

But then. If it were easy everyone would do it well.

The challenge... and overcoming it.... the journey and arriving at an inn on the way, if not the end, is what makes writing so fulfilling.

So if you catch me staring at you while you're talking to someone else these next few weeks just try to ignore me and no you don't have a piece of sashimi on your face. I'm just watching you like the stalker I am.

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