i can write a conversation, i just can’t have one.

August 23, 2010

So i had a bit of a problem recently when i asked a question of some writing friends and i couldn’t seem to phrase it the way i was thinking about it.  In turn i got answers that weren’t really what i was looking for.  It seems that reading my thoughts from not my eyes made it out to seem as though i was having some sort of self-confidence crisis.

i wasn’t.

It was really frustrating because while i loved reading their thoughts i knew that they weren’t understanding what i was saying.  And then i started worrying, more than usual,  that they were trying to boost my confidence when that wasn’t at all what i needed.  (Well, we all need that sometimes but you know. . .)

Then it was more frustrating because i sat there thinking, “If i can’t even ask a question the way i want to how in the world can i be a writer that lots of people read and comprehend?” Then it did sort of turn into a self-confidence crisis but the answers they gave to the not-really-asked question didn’t solve it.

And this has long been a problem of mine.  When it comes to classrooms and discussions of an intellectual sort i often feel like i have this perfect picture of what i want to say in my head but when i try to say it it turns out to be a jigsaw puzzle and it all falls apart.  And then my questions don’t get answered even though people think they are or people think i don’t know the answer to a question or whatever other scenario you can think of.  And that makes me not want to talk much.  And even more frustrating because people assume that if you can write you can talk, that you (or at least i am good with words in all senses.)

On the other hand, since i can remember i’ve been able to write short stories or poems or whatever that people get.  i’m not saying they’ve always been good poems but they seem to make sense.

i was talking to my favorite boy the other night and we compared writing poetry to taking a polaroid of a moment or an emotion with words.  apparently i’m a decent photographer if we’re going to drag this metaphor out.  But when it comes to talking like a real person i’m sort of an awkward mess.

Do other people have this problem?  i mean i can write poems fairly quickly but not that quickly.  In other words, i can’t have conversations in poem form.  So is there a way to combat this maddening situation?  Or is that just the way i’m built?  i’m not sure that would be disappointing to me.

So what are your thoughts?  Are you good at something and not so good at something that seems like they should go hand in hand?  How do you deal or not deal?



  1. I think a lot of people have the same problem, where they get stuck in trying to express an idea openly. I imagine that it’s a common problem for artists and inventors. You have a perfect picture of what you want in your head and when you express it in some form or another, whether through a painting, poem, sculpture or even mere conversation, it just comes out wrong. Personally, I have this problem all the time, especially when it comes to arguments. I can write a very convincing paper on the problem of the suburban / urban dichotomy in the early 1900s and how it pertains to capitalism today, but if I try explaining myself in conversation, it comes out a jumbled mess. If I try to argue my points out loud they don’t make sense, mostly because I’ve countered counter points in my head and jumped ahead to assume different oppositional points. (If that makes any sense). A lot of people, myself included, need a medium to fully express themselves. Writing acts as a focal point for all the thoughts that float around in my head. It’s almost like trying to control water. You can’t really hold onto it tightly in your hands, but it’s easy to carry once it’s in a vessel. I also encounter this problem in music. I hear music in my head, but when my hands try to play the music I hear on the piano I ultimately fail. I hope that was sufficient enough of a reply. I’m intimidated by your questions! They are so thought provoking, maybe that’s why I haven’t been commenting.

    • thank you for this. i love it and you and it definitely makes me feel a little better. don’t be intimidated, you know that i love hearing your side of the world.

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