Words and Words and Words and Words

I’ve been writing up a whole bunch of blog posts and preparing them for posting. While doing that, I noticed myself doing something in each post: apologizing for its length. And I wonder “Why am I apologizing?!” and hold down the delete button.

I’ve seen other bloggers do the same thing: apologize for posting “too much” or “too little” content. And I think it’s kind of ridiculous, that bloggers are expected to churn out the same quantity of content in each and every post like some kind of cookie-cutter. On the one hand, I can see that one might want a certain level of structure in a blog and that one might want to use different social platforms that are most suited to a particular amount and type of content. On the other hand, why bother to impress someone that only likes your blog for the length of its posts?

So, I am going to explain why my blog is so bloody wordy and after that, never apologize for my wordiness again.

Short answer:

I am a wordy person. The end.

Long answer:

Firstly, this is my space. When I am blogging, no one can interrupt me or talk over me. They can choose to stop reading whatever I wrote but they cannot interrupt what I wrote. This is different than what day-to-day life is for me. Me, I like talking with people one-on-one and even like a little public speaking or a debate in class, but I hate casual gatherings with groups of people because there is inevitably that one extraverted person who runs the conversation and is completely oblivious to whenever someone else is about to say something. I generally can’t say anything without interrupting someone else so I keep quiet. Or I’ll open my mouth to say something, only someone else opens their mouth at the same time and words come out louder and faster from them than from me, so they are the ones who get listened to. And so I become a wallflower and I hate it. Sometimes I get sick of being “the quiet girl” (“Why are you so quiet?” everyone asks). But here, I’m free to speak whatever’s on my mind for as long as I want.

I’m not giving that up.

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Also, the amount of words I use is reflective of the way I read and think. I don’t read in little bits and pieces. I’m voracious. When I read a book, I want to devour and savour it. Big, fat books that fill several days, little skinny books that can be read in a sitting… I love them. And if I have a full day to myself, I’ll read hundreds of pages. I’m the type of person who throws myself fully into an activity and will do that activity for hours. And that is how I read blogs and other Internet stuff. I’ll read it the same way I do a book. And when I write a blog post, I will write it the same way as I would write a chapter in a book. Chapters in the books I read are typically long, so my posts are long. And I’d rather read or write a long chapter that ends naturally than write one that ends prematurely and doesn’t feel complete.

You see, the purpose of this blog is not to provide bite-sized entertainment for you. I hope to entertain you and to bring some fun and joy into your life, but I also want to make you think. I want to be real with you. In order to fully express ideas, sometimes I have to use a lot of words. And I see so many connections between ideas and I want to show the connections between ideas, which requires even more words, which can make my posts very long. But that is the way I think and I’m not going to apologize for that anymore.

I am also a storyteller. I do it with words, I do it with music, I do it in images. Sometimes I don’t need words to tell a story, but other times the story requires a lot of words. I love stories and I use anecdotes to connect with people. Sometimes storytelling is even used as support for a philosophical argument. So I will use as many words as needed to tell the story.

And you have to keep in mind who I am. I am a university student. As such, I am assigned essays, which always have a minimum word count. And meeting a minimum word count was something engrained into me back in elementary school.

But remember, this isn’t just about the amount of words. The reason we have minimum word counts is because teachers and professors think that we cannot fully analyze and express the idea we are discussing in less words than the minimum word count. And in my experience, they’re generally right.

I remember I was writing a paper for a philosophy of religion course I was taking last year and I couldn’t get my count up above the minimum so I emailed my professor about it. He responded that if I could fully analyze the topic in fewer words, then he would mark it as if it had exceeded the minimum, but he had never seen anyone thoughtfully tackle the subject in so few words. So, as I did feel dissatisfied with my work, I kept working on that paper and discovered that he was right: I could not write thoughtfully on the matter with so few words. I thought and thought and thought about it and suddenly ideas started to flow and I found that even though I was exceeding the maximum word count (university professors learned to add that in because of people like me), I still wasn’t able to express all my thoughts on the subject. I got the paper back with an A-, along with some constructive criticism, one of which is that I tried taking on too large a subject for such a short paper and though I had a lot of good ideas, there just wasn’t enough room to fully explore them.

Since I’m not imposing a word limit on myself here, I want to explore the topics as fully as I can. I may not be able to completely explore a subject, because my knowledge is not complete, but I want to express my knowledge I do have as much as I can. If I’m really using a lot of words, like, several thousand words, I may break it up into a series of posts (like my “Saga of How I’m Taking the Summer Off”), but if it’s under two thousand words, it’ll probably be one post.

And now further down the same line of thought, this is also related to my approach as someone who speaks about delicate matters like mental disorders and abuse. I find that when I use fewer words, I don’t communicate what I actually mean, but instead a shallow stereotype of that idea. I find it better to use more words to say what I actually mean than to use fewer words that wind up corrupting the idea I meant to get across and the idea I wind up presenting actually being harmful in that corrupt form.

For example, I don’t use the term “abused woman” anymore. Why? Because it reduces her identity down to one life experience: the experience of being abused (and any stereotypes that accompany that). Instead, I prefer to use the term “woman who has been abused”, which acknowledges her life experience, an experience that includes abuse, but also acknowledges that she has other experiences and other facets to her identity. This requires me to use more words, but I, and others in my field, find these words are much more helpful and positive.

What it comes down to is this: words are power, and if the only way for me to use that power wisely is for me to use more words, then so be it. And if some days I feel like just posting a cat picture and one sentence, I’m not apologizing for that either. But ultimately, I need to post things in a way that make sense to me, because my blog is, first and foremost, for me. So I will use the words and media that get my message across in the way that is truest to my vision.

EDIT (08/05/2017): I found the picture I was looking for to go along with this post and added it. Yes, I found it on Pinterest.

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