Saturday, March 11, 2006

Words: to say or to write or both

The spoken word. As I mentioned in my bio, back home in Nigeria, I had a reputation for telling stories. I was quite fond of creating stories and recounting them to others. There was something about having people listen to your every word as they try to interpret what your every non-verbal expression foretold about what their ears would soon hear. It came to the point where if something happened, and I was one of the witnesses, people would prefer that I tell them what happened--I suppose I put a lot of drama into my stories. Anyway, those were the good old days when I could boldly stand in front of an audience. As an adult, I have acquired quite a bit more outward shyness. But don't be fooled.

The wriiten word. I did not actually get into the habit of writing things down until late in my high school years. When I did start, writing was a personal affair—I went on secret dates with the characters in my head, and I wrote stories that would shock or horrify an audience. I started realizing the constraint that the spoken word had been, in that your words has to bounce against an audience for it to live—the story in your head does not exist unless you tell it to someone. So I started enjoying the freedom that the written word offered me, which was to express ideas, to let them develop and go wherever, with the solid surface of my paper as my audience. My words could be expressed in tangible form whether or not other people heard it. I liked also that I could revisit what I wrote, exactly the way I wrote it (you can’t do that with spoken words unless you recorded it, but that can be expensive). I like that the written word was like a record keeper, a track of my progress that I could always refer to.

But spoken words carry an undefeatable advantage: instant connection to and response from one's audience; this is, after all, the purpose of every kind of word.

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At 3/6/06 2:08 PM, Blogger booklogged said...

I am neither a writer or storyteller, but a reader. I, too, value words. I am mesmerized with your use of them.


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