Do I need a new voice?

I’ve been reading about autoethnography and wishing I had the skill to write dialogue well. It has never been my strong point because I have difficulty wanting it to be exactly what people say, but in reality dialogue isn’t exactly what people say. It is a cleaned up version of what people say. People don’t talk that clearly in real live. In real live, dialogue involves a lot of ums and ahs, as well as ‘you knows’ and other such phrases. These all get stripped out of dialogue when writing for publication.

Bochner and Eliss (2016) highlight that autoethnography is a combination of social science inquiry and artistic voice. They say “Evocative autoethnography has to merge painstaking empirical work with taxing artistic labor” (p. 248). They are semi-fictional accounts in that they are “bound by what actually happened” (p.248) but also written in a way that communicates a morale that resonates with readers. Readers are brought into the story and get something from reading it – but that something isn’t necessarily the same for each reader. The messages and emotions that are evoked through writing this way bring about different reactions for each reader.

I then realized, why do I need to learn to write in a totally different way? If my blogging ‘voice’ resonates with people, then is it not an effective voice to be using? Why do I feel the need to do something in a totally different way that is unnatural for me? This too leads to a sense of impostor syndrome. I ask myself could I be an autoethnographer? but then I wonder, am I not one already?

It brings me full circle really. When I started back to school I looked into the idea of using a ‘blog’ as a dissertation. What I realize now is that it is a misunderstanding/interpretation of language. It isn’t that I would be using a ‘blog’ as a dissertation, it is that I could write chapters of my dissertation in the form of a series of blog posts. I understand the difference between ‘a blog’ and ‘a series of blog posts’, but those who don’t blog don’t necessarily get it. This lead me down the wrong path – a path of exploring blogs as a whole for dissertations, rather than using the blog genre of writing as way of writing chapter (or chapters) of my dissertation. For example, I could write a chapter that demonstrates the conversations that happen as part of the backchannel – the ones that researchers who look only at the surface of blogs cannot see – the conversations that I am privy to because I am an insider in the community. Rather than writing a ‘dialogue’ as people speaking, I could write a ‘dialogue’ as written communication between blogger and reader of blog. That would be something that is totally in the style and voice that I understand. It would be my voice rather than a voice that I’m trying to mimic.

What do you think? Do I need a new voice?

Feature image: CC0 via Pixabay

1 Comment on Do I need a new voice?

  1. Another thing people do in real conversation is not finish their own sentences. I’ve found lately that I am doing that a lot and I’m not sure what it means. I don’t know if it means I am pre-supposing that the person I’m talking to has completely understood my point before I finish, or rather I expect that they understand it, and that they understand I’m too exhausted to do them the favor of saying something they already know. Wow that was a long sentence.

    But – if I were to write dialogue, as I have seen in plays, many times, the lines can be unfinished sentences left for the audience to guess and the protagonist and antagonist to use words and body language, intonations and emphasis to surprise the audience that is pausing in irony to glean meaning from a cultural experience that is only likely to reflect what they want to see.

    I don’t think you need a new voice. I think we need more people to hear what we have already heard, and there just isn’t enough time and there are not enough resources at our fingertips to help raise the bar of common sense across the global community. Although we can try, those who are in power continue to recalculate the best way to maintain the status quo.

    Keep using your voice and if it changes, it will only be because you are, as we all are, an ever changing person, renewable and alterable, fresh, ready, open, thinking, learning, caring, expressing.
    Your voice is perfectly yours, however you want to use it.

    In lighter reference, I have been wondering lately about how to break in to the voice-acting world.
    It’s not something I could do seriously any time soon. But maybe if I start thinking about it now and looking into it now, by the time I am ready, I’ll be prepared. Hm.

    Being able to do your dissertation as a series of blog posts – that is bold and I would encourage you to figure out how to make it happen. It would be an interesting break through but it would also require some deliberately rigorous work to demonstrate the validity of your research. Is there a hypothesis involved?

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