don't worry, it's probably fine

Finding your tone

12 Nov 2019

nablopomo blogging

Writing is hard, and I don’t even do it for a job.

My time as a young teenager was one of rushing home from school and jumping on MSN Messenger, to talk to the people you’d just said goodbye to.

I remember taking a distinct amount of pride, which in the rear-view mirror I realise was more arrogance than anything else, in refusing to use “text speak”. Or when I did, it was totally ironic, you know?

God, I was insufferable back then. My poor parents.

Even from the start, my tone has been edged towards “formal” rather than “casual”. Were I a wagering sort, I would put a decent amount of dosh on this being a defensive practice. I make no secret that some of my early secondary school years were deeply unpleasant, and I could believe that putting on what someone could uncharitably call “airs and graces” was a way of protecting myself.

But all things pass, as did this period. I felt happier in myself, built a new group of friends, and I had a new vocabulary to absorb. And sharing words brings people together, almost like a secret language but made of non-secret words.

(note: maybe scrap that, rubbish analogy)

I went to university and my writing became more detached, more sarcastic. Where I would have punctuated and capitalised on principle, my tone slowly drifted in favour of all-lower-case. Far too cool to use capitals or punctuation. Occasionally I look over old chat logs from almost a decade ago. That’s an experience, wew lad.

Somewhere along the way, I made a conscious decision to write as I speak. Or more preciously, not to write in a way I wouldn’t speak. I can’t put my finger on when, but it’s probably my guiding … “thing” … when I’m writing. I would literally have paused there, and perhaps gestured my hands to indicate something unknown.

Now, I’m in a place where I’m very close to someone for whom writing is a huge part of their life. And I find myself picking things up from their tone, a more studied and measured tone. Deliberate. I can hear their voice in my ear when I try to use adverbs (don’t do it!), or my sentence runs on for ages and ages, or I use ‘And’ to start a sentence.

And sometimes I just really like breaking those rules!

Moving sentence structures around or changing adjectives feels the same to my brain as when I’m refactoring bits of code.

Because writing words and writing software are the same thing. Trying to communicate with clarity, cutting out unnecessary cruft, while preserving the core message and idea of the content.

I don’t know how to end this post, other than I’ll probably look back on it in another ten years and think, “wew lad”.

I said to myself that I’d write about something non-technical for NaBloPoMo. This will do nicely.

November is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. I’ll be endeavouring to write one blog post per day in the month of November 2019 - some short and sweet, others long and boring.