Life as an Extreme Sport

voices carry

I had a fun day at school today, bouncing ideas off a visibly startled professor who’s not accustomed to my rather manic-when-thinking approach to life (which is funny, because he gets similarly manic when lecturing), spending a class practicing grad student telepathy with two colleagues, and an utterly enjoyable five or six hours chasing research on the subject I think I’m going to tackle as my first major project.

Then I got home to see the book fairy arrived, and screw productivity, I have books! The new Steven Brust and a couple of Val McDermond novels, and I’m already two chapters into Brust. Which is actually what brought me here to make a comment: it’s terrificly odd to read a book written in the voice of someone you have semi-routine contact with. I’m not entirely certain why this doesn’t come out with the academics I know (for the most part; Phillip and Rob Mitchell both are very present in their writings), but I suspect it has to do with few people actually saying the things they write; I don’t know anyone who would, for example, say “…bioethics as it is involving into a robust area of research can never be truly excellent in the minds of those for whom the application of philosophy means traditional dissemination of epistemology or metaphysics…” – but I do know the person who wrote that.

The difference between our voice when writing, and our voice when speaking, is interesting. We construct our sentences differently, inflection takes the role of punctuation and gives us different options, and even our very words differ. Few people sound the same on paper as they do when speaking. To carry this further, most people who write professionally have different tones even when writing; take the example of the person above, who I’ve numerous emails from. The emails have a very different tone, as is appropriate for audience and situation. (So now we have three different voices in play?)

All of this really just comes down to: Steven Brust writes Vlad like he writes, period. If you read his general correspondance, then pick up a Vlad novel, you will not notice a perceptible difference. Which is weirdly interesting, and got me thinking on voices, and how many different voices belong to each of us.

Which might be fun to continue exploring, but instead I’m curling up under the blankets and forgetting I have obligations outside a novel.