#WW Pronunciation and Writing
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris demanded my attention simply from the title. Despite working with the English language every day—both as a writer and as an editor—I have difficulty speaking. I stumble and stutter a lot. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I worked so hard to master the written language. I was making up for another aspect of the language I didn’t excel in.
Looking back on it, I blamed moving around a lot as a kid—mixing up accents and phrases and idioms—but I don’t have much blame anymore. In fact, I’ve rather embraced this awkward part of myself, and it no longer bothers me like it used to. While most people around me avoided bringing it up a few years ago, it’s now a common joke. “Okay. English major.” “Aren’t you the writer here?” Both phrases I now hear on a regular basis, paired with laughter and a “Yeah. yeah. I get it.” It’s an accepted part of my life now, something I don’t fight, something I realized most people look past anyway. I was the one judging myself.
Take the other day for example…
On a drive back from the grocery store, I saw Venus and Jupiter in the sky. I am a HUGE space nerd—probably due to Sailor Moon—so I started rambling about how new information on Pluto released, discussing spots on the surface, and NASA was speculating what could’ve caused it. That’s when I came across the word “meteors.” The problem was simple. I had just finished talking about how Meg Cabot’s final book in the Mediator series was coming out and now I had to say meteor? It wasn’t happening. I stumbled for three minutes. Eventually, it turned into a giggle fit.
I know the words. I know how to say the words. I just can’t explain why it doesn’t come out that way. But I think the saddest part is when people can no longer take you seriously when you stumble over a word or two. In all honesty, I haven’t had that problem much. In fact, I think I simply worried that it would happen, so I stayed silent. My speech class in college got me over that fear. If I can say this without bragging, I got a big ol’ A in that course. (I know. I know. It’s speech class. But it meant the world to me. In fact, it meant Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus to me.) Up until that point, I thought there was no way I could succeed as a writer with a pronunciation issue like mine. What was I supposed to do if I ever booked a signing where I had to read a chapter out loud? The horror! What happens when people think I couldn’t have possibly written the words if I couldn’t speak them? Double horror! How do I explain myself? …I just died from horror.
It was a panic attack waiting to happen…a panic attack I overcame a long time ago but still comes back every now and then when I have to say specific or pacific, shoulder or solider, Neanderthal, and, I suppose, meter or mediator. (Fun fact: I stumbled over mediator in my YouTube video—Book Boyfriends—and said “med-a-tore” instead. I suppose I could’ve deleted it, reshot it, edited it out, but I’ve embraced this part of myself.)
These are all words I avoided saying out loud. All words I’ve used in stories a hundred times. All words that are, no matter what, precious to me.
“Emma Saying” on YouTube and “How To Pronounce” are two websites I use on a regular basis to practice. I don’t avoid words anymore, but I still stumble, and I imagine that’s just a part of me that makes me me—a character in my own right—a writer who stumbled over her love for words.
I’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis, Missouri THIS Saturday. I’m going as a reader, not as an author, so if you want to meet me, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In other news…
Minutes Before Sunset releases in 6 days. 6 DAYS! We’re less than a week away, and all of your support matters. You make a difference in my life, and for that, I thank you.
All three novels in The Timely Death Trilogy are up for pre-order: Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, and Death Before Daylight. Please check them out or share them with the teaser. That would also mean Pluto, Venus, and Jupiter to me. :]
ANDDDD don’t forget. CTP’s Midsummer Magic Prty is on July 30, from 7-9 p.m. on Facebook. You can win paperbacks, jewelry, and more – all by playing games. You know I’ll be there. :] OH! And I started a newsletter, so feel free to click here to sign up. You’ll get to win more prizes!
Get excited! More information to come.
9 thoughts on “#WW The Difference of Pronunciation and Writing”
I think it happens more often than we realize. A lot of my friends have verbal stumbles and tics. My wife is actually the worst with a few groan-worthy mess ups. Her best to date is mixing up the word ‘twit’ with another word that has a different vowel in it. We had to stop that one pretty quickly. Personally, I get tongue-tied and have to pause because my brain goes faster than my mouth. So a chunk of what I want to say never gets out into the open. I also yawn a lot when talking at length, which means a public reading is a terrifying thing.
I agree! I think it does happen a lot. The more I talked about it with others, the more others had similar stumbles or knew someone who does. That’s a pretty funny story with your wife! I appreciate you sharing stories. I’ve never done a public reading of my novels – just poetry – so I’m still a little terrified of that too. We will see if it happens one day. ;]
I’ve done poetry and it has never gone well. I can’t project my voice and I read like I’m in a race. So many times I’ve been stopped and made to start again. I’m guessing everyone has a verbal tic of some kind.
Shannon, you inspire me! Thank you. Val
Thank you for reading and commenting, Val!
I mispronounce and stutter a fair bit myself. I like to believe it is because my brain is functioning faster than I can articulate the words and is already on to my next thought before I can finish a sentence. I’ve had to take some extra communication classes in order to practice the ‘artful pause’ which has helped when speaking in public, but around my friends, we accept that words get muddy.
That’s always what my father says too. “Your brain is moving too fast for the words coming out of your mouth.” I get really excited, and bsakdjaslvjeionlce. That’s what I sound like anyway. Sounds like you have great friends! Thank you for reading and sharing your story!