Writing. Speaking. Feck.

It is one of the most frustrating elements in my life: when I write of books, I can pull off quite a decent job. Sometimes, anyway. I have an idea where I’m going, I may contradict myself, I may be getting overly mad or enthusiastic, I may waffle poetic, but it works, doesn’t it? Why, then, when I talk, do I sound like an angry hairy confused half-wit. Just this past Monday, the Bookbabblers and I interviewed the great young writer Joshua Cohen. I asked him to come, prepared not one, two or three, but five pages of questions and remarks and sounded like a vaguely drunk confused old man, not quite there, but too hopped up on drink not to talk now and then. Or in a discussion about Auster on Bookbabble, where I let fellow debaters get away with amazingly nonsensical arguments. Or when I explain poetry to fellow students. Next Monday, I might have an opportunity to speak to Mr. Charles Altieri. I will prepare, think about it, and when I’m there next week, I’ll look and sound like a confused homeless person expounding on UFOs and government conspiracies. Feck. Gobshite. Anyway. Back to my writing.

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5 thoughts on “Writing. Speaking. Feck.

  1. How much practice do you have at this? You’ll get better over time. You’re probably alone a great deal, which does little to hone your interviewing skills. Writing is not the same as speaking, let alone engaging someone in conversation. The Internet erodes people’s face-to-face skills – if they had any to begin with.

  2. Hi Paul. I’m actually almost never alone except when others are asleep. Do I give off such an air of loneliness? :O

  3. I didn’t have the time yet to listen to the Joshua Cohen’s interview on Bookbabble. But I heard you asking (a lot of) questions to Brian Evenson, and, believe me, you didn’t sound like “a vaguely drunk confused old man” at all!!!
    But I can understand what you feel, it reminds me about my experience of teaching… Sometimes, preparing too much restricts spontaneity, I think. But that’s a difficult balance to find, between hard work and beeing natural.
    Don’t worry, Marcel, you do a great, great job!!!

  4. Marcel, I may have been presumptuous to think that you’re alone a lot. But even if you’re surrounded by people, you can feel lonely if you’re not engaged with them. I think many writers resort to writing because it is the only medium where they have enough control to express themselves in a manner that they find satisfactory. Possibly you’re also introverted, which would make you feel inept in situations that require extroversion. That can be overcome with practice. Anne-Françoise is probably right, and you’re not as bad as you think.

  5. When interviewing, your prepared questions may or may not be important. I have found listening to the answers as important, if not more so, than my questions. When watching some interviews on TV news etc), it always irks me to see the interviewer ask his question and not listen to the answer, because he/she is too busy thinking of his/her next question – to the extent of nterrupting the interviewee just when he/she was about to say something of far greater interest than the interviewer’s next question.

    As reading is to writing, the more one reads the better one writes oneself, listening is to interviewing. The better the listener, the better the interviewee. Provided of course that the interviewee actually has something to say. Sadly, not always the case.

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