I don’t know what it is, but I’ve observed a natural tic in my writing lately. I wish I could call it a style, but it isn’t. It isn’t something pretty.
It’s a tic.
If I had a tendency to do something that made my writing stand out—Raymond Carver, T.C. Boyle, Zora Neale Hurston—it would be called voice or style or craft. If I had some kind of restrained minimalist sensibility that reinforced emotional impact, say, or a quick mind for outrageous and quirky yet fitting words, or wrote with a lyrical, rhythmic sing-song approach, I would have an art.
But I don’t and what I have is little and ugly and in its own shameful way even perverted.
Do you recognize it yet? If so, do you know what it’s called? Has it got a cure, other than conscious awareness of its existence and a constant battle to rub out its use? Awareness is a start, but it’s really slowing me down. I’d rather just run with the words, but instead I’m constantly re-thinking my sentences to get rid of this little, ugly, perverted tic.
This tic, this tendency, is a habit of connecting my thoughts using a construct that involves ‘but.’ It’s recent, or perhaps only recently discovered (should I count the number of ‘buts’ in my first two novels?), but it’s haunting me.
I’m tempted to take a generous view of all this. What does it say about me that, in my writing at least, I naturally follow one line of thought with a contrary line of thought? Maybe it says I’m well-rounded, that I’m open-minded and inclined to look at a problem from more than one point of view.
But on the other hand, maybe this tic in my writing betrays ambivalence, indecision, and diffidence.