The other day my husband told me that I could sometimes be a bit convoluted in my communications, leading to less clarity and sometimes confusion. He was about to really get into how I do that, but I cut him off with a laugh. I laughed, because he was absolutely the pot calling the kettle.
This is a man who will spend 40 minutes telling you five different stories to explain one off-hand remark, and you will not realize, at first, that he is doing this, because story number 1 has NOTHING to do with what he said. If that’s not convoluted, then I don’t know the meaning of the word.
And I absolutely do know the meaning of that word, as someone who recently ‘won’ an argument by pointing out that I properly used the subjunctive.
The incident made me think about my writing, and whether I need to keep an eye out for convoluted phrasing or confusing word usage. And I think that I do keep an eye out for those, but that isn’t all that I need to do. If my thoughts naturally organize into something more convoluted than typical, then I need to think about bigger picture organization and making that more clear in my writing.
I consider myself a ‘rule-follower’. I have learned the rules of the English language (many of them, at least), and I enjoy using that knowledge. Using the language to the greatest extent that I can. That’s all well and good for an essay, or perhaps literary fiction, but if I want to tell a story? I need to put clarity over cleverness.
Even if it means no longer using the subjunctive to win arguments. I can always find another winning tactic. . .