On the tip of my tongue

A week or so ago a person who’s known me for a very, very long time – knows my background and my family and how filled with books the house I grew up in is and how I talk – but had not read anything I’ve written until I started blogging, told me that she was quite surprised by my writing style. She thought it would be more flowery. More long words, I guess, and poetic and perhaps more philosophical?

I was a bit surprised, anyway, because at the other end of the scale Coffee Monster finds it funny and frustrating that, when talking, I have the barest grasp of nouns and can spend five minutes searching for the correct adjective. Not out of artistic temperament – I just forget words easily when I’m on the spot. I used to have a speech impediment which still sometimes resurfaces if I’m very tired (think Daffy Duck and you’re close) but is mostly history. But I did used to, at school, try to avoid using words that I thought would get me mocked, which was anything with an S. So maybe this is a hangover from that.

I am quite capable of stringing together a sentence that goes something like ‘You know that thingy yesterday – I saw another one this morning, I mean afternoon, and I thought we should get one to put on top of the whatchamacallit because it’d go nice with the other thing’… and expecting him to understand what I mean (to give him credit, he usually does).  This basic lack of eloquence was pointed out at work yesterday as well, “You don’t always sound like you know what you’re talking about when you refer to everything as ‘thing’.”

How can anyone pick the right one out of such a mess of choice in a split second?
How can anyone pick the right one out of such a mess of choice in a split second?

Yeah. My mouth and my mind aren’t always on the same wavelength. I always want to say (and can’t and don’t because that would mean remembering the words) that just because I don’t have the signifier on the type of my tongue, doesn’t mean I don’t understand the signified and the resulting sign.*  I might not be able to pull the word chair out of my head when I need it, but I know how to sit on the damn thing and how to prop it if it wobbles, and I know what a chair is if someone else says the word.

(*bit of Saussure for you there. I knew the 1st year of my degree would come in handy some time.)

This, ladies and gents, is reason 38 of Why I Would Make A Terrible Teacher. I have terrible communication skills. I have a decent vocabulary locked away. It’s just that it comes more readily out of my fingers than my mouth – which is great when most things at work use email communication. Annoying for the people who have to actually talk to me, though Reading and writing, I like things simple. It’s frustrating when people sacrifice clarity for intellectual gymnastics – save that shit for legal documents. Vocally, I keep things so simple for me that it becomes confusing again. I suppose that’s something to work on in the future. Along with psyching myself up to do more poetry reading at some point, I’m going to work on taking a breath and trying to find the right words instead of babbling.

Anyone else have this problem? Anyone else think ‘thingy’ is the best filler-noun in the world?


There was a two-week gap on the blogging front again, I know. Sorry. In that two weeks I have received a handful of rejections for poems and stories, and sent a couple more out. I have worked mostly on my Very Long Story, which I’m currently having a crisis of confidence about. I had news that, unfortunately but unavoidably, the issue of Bare Fiction that I’m in will be coming towards the end of August instead of this month. You can check out the why and the stats HERE.

A couple of people from my distant and not-so-distant past that I had never expected to see or hear from again reappeared. I went to see Monty Python Almost Live, which was really rather good. Also Neil Gaiman reading The Truth is A Cave in the Black Mountains. And the Eels playing at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s been a good couple of weeks.

I’ve also read Matt Haig’s The Humans, which I finished just this morning. If you’re ever feeling jaded by the human race (and I usually am – I’m not a misanthrope, but my view of humans and the future of the planet is downright pessimistic. Something I never remember until I start discussing it with someone else) this is a necessary read. You’ll appreciate people quite a lot more. Also your dog, if you have one. I put the book down, kissed CM and then went out in the torrential rain with both dogs and we splashed through all the puddles I could find in the woods. They loved it. So did I. We are all semi-dry now, and sitting in a damp fug in the front room. They are snoring.

Tomorrow I am swimming from Hampton Court to Kingston starting at around 9am and probably finishing a couple or more hours after that, in case anyone wants to come and cheer people on or buy me food afterwards (seriously).

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