Living in the Active Voice

I’m reading a book right now called All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s a teen read, and I’m really enjoying it so far, and I’ll probably review it here later, but there’s something about it that really has me thinking.

Each chapter title is a listing of what the main character has done in that chapter. The first few chapter titles are:

I Defend My Own Honor
I am Punished; Define Recidivism; Tend to Family Matters
I Confess; Contemplate Mortality & Teeth; Lure a Boy Under False Pretenses; Disappoint My Brother
I Go to Little Egypt
I Regret Having Gone to Little Egypt
etc.

Defintiely a clever gimmick that caught my attention, they fit so well with the title of the book. But what I especially like about these, is that they are (almost) all in the active voice. The protagonist, Anya, takes responsiblity for her actions. She defends her honor, not she is insulted. It’s not about how others treat her, it is about how she reacts. She regrets her own decision to go to Little Egypt, she doens’t whine about what went wrong there due to others. Smart girl, that Anya.

And it got me to thinking about journaling and/or blogging. I’ve read that sometimes just listing things that happen in your day can be a good way to journal, let’s face it, we don’t all feel very creative every day. When I starting thinking about listing all these things I’ve done, I realized that my lists were more likely to be in the passive voice, or about things that were totally out of my control, or were negatives instead of positives: the Astros lost, a customer ignored my recommendations, daughter#1 made some wedding decision, I didn’t get enough done, someone (to remain unnamed) irritated me.

Hmmm….THAT little exercise was a wake-up call. It is time to start living in the active voice, owning up to my actions, and keeping my focus on future possibilities instead of past failures. So on that note, Go ‘Stros!

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