Despite working with the English language every day—as a writer, as an editor, and as a reader—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 idioms—but I don’t use blame anymore. In fact, I’ve rather embraced this awkward part of myself, and it no longer bothers me like it used to. A common comeback from a friend generally includes phrases like, “Okay. English major.” Or “Aren’t you the writer here?” Yeah. Yeah. I get it. I stutter. But 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 this anecdote as an 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, and 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, 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, meteor 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.) At my recent book signings in Barnes & Noble, I even messed up “Wattpad.” For some reason, I cannot, for the life of me, say “watt.” I always say “what.” So, “Whatpad” it is, and the crowd laughed when I made a joke about it. My fear somehow turned into laughter.
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.
Original posted July 22, 2015
Bad Bloods: November Snow FINALLY came in the mail this week! Safe to say, I’m in love. On top of that, a lovely reader sent me a November Snow book review that cracked me up. “THE AUTHOR GAME OF THRONED ME AND I WAS IN MY FEELINGS OKAY?!?!?!?” – Chic Nerd Reads …Yep. I love your Bad Bloods book reviews. Thank you for sending them to me. ❤
Right now, Bad Bloods: November Rain (book 1) is FREE across all platforms. I hope you check it out. I’ll be debuting the paperbacks at Penned Con in St. Louis this September, and I’ll be sharing a booth with the lovely Natasha Hanova. Stop by her page and say hi!
November Rain (FREE)