Between the Lines

While writing an e-mail message today, I found myself using an expression I normally hate: “reading between the lines.” Indeed, I was reminded of the (admittedly cheap) remark I made in one of my classes: “The only thing you’ll find between the lines is white space.” On the other hand, a close reading of a text is a different matter entirely. Everything from the choice of words to the sequencing of ideas can offer insights on what the writer intends to say and not say, as well as on the affect and effect of the text.

That said, I’m reminded of how I’ve been told that I come across as more assertive in my writing than I do in person. In person, I tend to be slow to react as I take in what I’m being told. But writing affords me the time to reflect; as a result, more often than not, what I write is the result of either a lot or at least of tiny bit of reflection.

I’m not entirely sure, however, what is bringing me to write this blog entry, other than the fact I’ve just finished writing an e-mail message with a much-hated expression. That, and possibly the fact that I’m wrestling once again with the perceived gap between my written and “live” persona. I don’t think that one is better than the other, nor that my writing style is misleading. At the same time, I’m thinking about the many people I know whose writing style is more consistent with their “live” persona, and wondering how I’ve managed to develop two distinct personas. And my first guess is that I have spent (and enjoyed) a lot of time by myself.

{4} Thoughts on “Between the Lines

  1. I’ve been asking myself similar questions, Maurice, and coming to similar answers. In person, you can see me taking the time to stop, listen, and process. You know I am hearing all the voices and taking time to come to a decision. In writing, you only see the final step. I try to explain some of the process in the writing, but it can still come off as much more assertive than I might mean it.

    I, too, think the divide may be a result of years lived in semi-hermitage.

  2. Actually, I figured you would relate. I think your latest blog entry, combined with the e-mail message I wrote earlier today, brought me to write this entry.

  3. Then there are people like me… who write in exactly the same manner in which they speak. I tend to blurt sentences, miss words completely and my sentences are a semi-tidy mess of scattered thoughts.

  4. Funny, Damian …but I didn’t have any trouble understanding you when we spoke on the phone.

    Now wait a minute… Maybe that’s saying something strange about ME! 😛

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