As my final follow-up piece in my series of why my blog and online presence will enhance future career opportunities I’m going to talk about my voice. (For the first three pieces click the links: introduction, technology and building relationships.) For all intents and purposes “voice” in this piece can easily be exchanged with “aesthetic.”
Let’s get the basics out of the way; I was not an English, Communications or Journalism major. A lot of the English grammar terms I know I learned while taking Spanish because I apparently didn’t pay attention in high school English class. (They taught us that right?) What little editing I do know I’ve picked up on my own, learned in a really intensive copy editing class or am schooled in on a regular basis by the amazing editor at work. What’s great is that, none of this keeps me from wishing to copy edit books, like the one above, or to organize and copy edit the internet, but that is an entirely different world.
All of this being said I still have a voice. I have a distinct voice and it’s worked to my advantage personally, on this blog, and professionally, working with students and young alumni. Someone recently said to me that the ability to change your voice based on who you’re writing to/working with is a skill you can’t be taught, that you either have it or you don’t. I like to think I have this skill and mostly it is thanks to this blog.
Generally, in person I am very serious with the occasional bout of very silly; there is very little in between. Something this blog has helped me do is to find that middle ground. How serious can I be when I’m responding to a “trashy” romance novel? (Yes, I read those.) Or how can I not be overwhelmed with emotions and sadness when I read about many of the tragedies or oppressed populations who appear in the books I read? (Yes, I read these too, more often than you would think.)
In writing about books that make me uncomfortable or books I struggle to truly comprehend their impact, I’ve found through being a little irreverent, a little hokey and using a whole lot of honesty I can process things better and share them easier. And to top it off, I’ve also found my hidden southerner, because sometimes there is nothing more needed than a good “y’all” in the right place to emphasis a point.
Something else I noticed recently is how my voice has evolved as a writer/blogger. When I recently overhauled my old posts ridding them of the dreaded post period double space, I re-read some of my very first posts. You don’t have to ask if I was embarrassed. That’s like asking: Would your high school journal embarrass you now?
Mostly, I was happy to see that even though I’ve grown in confidence and eloquence as a writer, my voice has stayed true and I’ve stayed true to why I originally started this blog: a personal journey and reflection of what I’m reading.
There are only two drawbacks to finding my voice: writing up and grammar/punctuation. These aren’t really drawbacks, but more hurdles that I have to adapt to in order to remain successful.
Sometimes, I struggle to be formal when I write and I believe that’s a combination of having the freedom to write whatever I want on my blog and the populations I communicate with for work. This doesn’t mean I can’t be formal. It just means I have to be hyper-aware of what I’m writing and give a head’s up to our team proofer/editor to keep an eye out for me. This is all part of growing as a professional. Being aware of this personal shortcoming saves a lot of trouble because I plan ahead to include extra editing time for these types of projects.
The other drawback, punctuation, is just never going to happen (a la this article in The Onion). I am not a fan of the Oxford comma, except in specific circumstances, and unfortunately my workplace is. I also love and probably over use parenthesis, creative punctuation marks, like “!?” or “!!,” internet slang, like TL;DR (To Long; Didn’t Read), and punny titles. But thankfully I have that sort of flexibility!
This all being said, I am perfectly capable of using our institutional punctuation and language. I’m just thankful I have the opportunity, again because of who my audience is and my established voice here, to be more informal and showcase the skills I’ve gained through this blog.