I talk to myself. I always have. Sometimes, I hold extensive conversations with myself. Frequently, I’ll rehearse things I plan to say when I arrive at a location where I’ll be expected to speak; sometimes I repeat things I wish I had said when I misspoke at any point in my life. If I followed some of the guidelines I develop in these conversations, I imagine I’d be a lot more content.
Aside from talking to myself, vocalizing what’s on my mind is probably my least favorite means of communicating. I don’t like talking to people and I’m often very awkward and not very confident in speaking. The funny thing is, when I’m onstage, reciting prepared remarks or performing in a play, I’m rarely nervous, though I do worry about forgetting lines.
In the 90s, I was affiliated with the Atlanta Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) and served as president from May 1997 until April 1998. In this capacity, I was expected to lead meetings, introduce speakers, and to convey the mission of the chapter to new members and potential sponsors. At the end of the year, I was recognized as one of the top local presidents in the state, which remains one of my three proudest accomplishments, the other two being graduating college and having my first full-length play produced in my home neighborhood in Atlanta.
Still, I find I communicate better as a writer than a speaker. My biggest regret from college is not signing up to be a deejay on WRAS, Georgia State University’s radio station. People tell me I have a good voice, and I do have a talent for voices and for mimicking foreign accents and famous people. I have no good excuse for not trying out for WRAS, I just couldn’t muster the drive to do it.
The tendency to talk to myself comes in handy when I’m writing dialogue for a play or story. I’ll put myself in the frame of mind of one of the characters and let the words flow. The results often require extensive pruning afterward, but I’m of the school that says that more is more, so I often tend to overwrite encounters and confrontations, then sort everything out in editing.
When I’m using this method, anything goes, which is why editing is so important. Sometimes, in regular conversations, the dialogue doesn’t go anywhere, but who cares? I’m likely the only person who’s going to see or hear it.