Just a Different Kind of English

I am an amateur writer who has been lucky enough to begin finding a little voice which I have been hoping will grow and make more sense. The essence being that a large part of how I earn a living did and does depend on writing.

It took five minutes to start that sentence because I wondered about my word arrangement. There is probably some grammar in there that needs fixing. Is the sentence clear?

That is what happens when a native English editor says this about your unpublished work, “It’s possible that [byawoman’s] writing style may be suitable for the readers you envisage for the book, but to me the style is too convoluted …”

Though I knew the word, I was forced to look it up in a dictionary so that I could process the meaning word for word.

I slowly took in the unexpected news which echoed in my mind as did the murmurs around me, for suddenly I could not hear anything but the distant throbbing of my irregular heartbeat.

A few minutes in, my feeling evolved to a sense of something greater opening up for me; that the real journey had just begun with my work now open to editorial criticism. Could I use the convoluted expression that I was both sadly happy and happily sad?

A couple of days and conversations later (of my friends listening to my monologues on this and sharing their intelligible perspectives) I finally processed the information.

  1. My writing will always be convoluted because that is my voice and if I lose the twist, I will lose my voice. BUT…
  2.  I would need to work on finding that delicate balance between refining my art and still keeping my authentic voice in the process. BECAUSE …
  3. The fact is although English is a first language to many of us and a dominant global language, the originally native speakers are projected to constitute only about 5  per cent of our world’s population by 2050 (read more here) and are not far more at present. THEREFORE …
  4. We, the other 95 per cent use language differently. We do not use or comprehend English the same way Oscar Wilde or Jane Austen did. Our manner of oration depends highly on our cultural experiences and the influence of our other languages. We think in multiple languages and experiences even when we have to write it in one – usually English. SO…
  5. It’s just a different kind of English- not better and not worse. What matters is your story; that there is a story which people want to read! The rest comes after. AND…
  6. That is how I stay encouraged, that there is room for a Kenyan-Russian woman, who lived four years of her life with Italians and who is taking claim to her convoluted writing style alongside her continuous failed attempts at making pesto.

My friends reminded me of (other) complex writers such as Victor Hugo (French) and Garcia Marquez (Colombian) who among others of their kind (non-natives of the English language) created stories which became epic in the English language.

Victor HugoI conclude with the insightful words given to me by yet another friend and managing editor, “Not all editors are right for all writers. Your work will find the right eyes.”

3 thoughts on “Just a Different Kind of English

  1. Rebecca Stonehill says:

    Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more. You have aa unique writing style – it is YOUR voice, and it is no less English because you didn’t grow up in England. I mean, what tiny % of English speakers actually hail from that tiny, far flung island somewhere up in the northern hemisphere?!?
    Keep writing – it’s great to read! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    I remember when I started writing my book. I was wondering if my sentence structure was correct, grammar and focused on the “right” way of telling my story etc. I stumbled on some of Toni Morrison’s books and Noviolet Bulawayo’s books when doing my research and realized, there is no wrong or right way of writing. It’s the voice of the characters and the feel that’s important. Some of these books used “broken English” and the other had no quotation marks so you wouldn’t realize you were reading a dialogue. Both were on the best selling authors lists. It really got me thinking.
    Do we shut down people who do not speak our tongue and interrupt them to correct their grammar when they are trying to tell a story? It’s their voice– their stories. Editors are good at what they do, but sometimes they are too technical and edit too much that the feel of the entire story is lost. I remember once I wrote a poem and sent it to a former mentor that was an editor. I was told to change a lot of things. It made me feel like the purpose and story was lost. To try and prove a point they sent it to another family member. Their family member was a renown poet and loved my work as it was. That experience taught me to go with my gut. We all have our way of getting somewhere and when it comes to expression, finding your voice is most important. At the end of the day, it is your story.


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