Over the past few years, I have tried to vary my reading so I could get maximum exposure to all the different kinds of writing genres and styles that were out there. I’ve read such things as military science fiction, romance, mysteries, fantasy, young adult fiction, middle grade fiction, books about the craft of writing, and Christian books. These all have given me a wide exposure and a boost to my creativity which has helped my own writing.
I had never thought though of the different kinds of language used in writing before this past weekend. Now, I’m not talking about different languages. I’m talking about the ways people talk in the same language in different books. Let me explain. During the past several weeks I have been having, I guess what you would call angst, about my future when my younger son graduates from high school in May. What kind of opportunities would I have to write or to do whatever as a woman in her early 50’s. It’s big stuff–this thing called having an empty nest. I’ve poured myself into my kids for over twenty years and especially for the last twelve as I have homeschooled them. So, I have a lot to think about and consider.
What does that have to do with different kinds of language? I saw a quote by Virginia Woolf last week which resonated with me. This led to the books she had written. Here’s the quote. “I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.” As far as I’m concerned, there is so much truth in that statement. Anyway, I went to her list of books and found a description of one of them. A Room of One’s Own. An essay based upon two papers read in October of 1928. Wow! This was something I needed to read. Something that might answer my questions.
I found it at the library on Sunday and began reading it. I’m not done yet. but one of the first things I noticed was how different the language was. This was written by a woman in the 1920’s so, of course, you would expect it to be different. But, I didn’t know how different it would be. I have been alternating between reading this book and a military science fiction book, and the differences are stark. In the first, Woolf discusses how women have not had opportunities to do things that are amazing because they have been weighted down by the desires of men–between children and cooking and mending and everything else that goes on in a household. Men have been the ones to write about women, to act in plays about women, and to discuss the affairs of the day without considering the opinion of women. While in the military science fiction book, which a woman wrote, the main female characters have had every opportunity–to gain medical knowledge, weapons knowledge, and knowledge about all of the sciences. A cornucopia of opportunity. In this book, women are respected for their knowledge; they are respected for what they can do; and they are valued members of the group they are associated with.
Two different comparisons–one fiction and one not, but both representative of the times in which they were written. It was interesting to me how well both books have been able to state their premise with the language used. The book by Woolf has more formal language–language used in the late 1920’s as well as in her country of origin–while the other book’s vernacular is more present-day. Despite the different kinds of language used, it was nice to see that the people of each era dreamed about and wanted the same things–for men and women to be seen as equal human beings. Though a lot has changed between 1928 and 2018, we still have a long way to go. May we as writers lead the way using words to paint pictures of how we would like the world to be!