Readings on Writing (p. 246-260)
“Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries” by Peter Elbow
In “Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries,” Peter Elbow attempts to help the college reader understand and engage in the contrary standpoints of using “voice” in writing and help readers to be more sensible in intellectual thinking and writing. Though the argument on voice has been dead for quite a while now, Elbow livens things up by arguing for and against using voice in papers in his article. Elbow also introduces the “either/or” battle and the “both/and” compromise. His unusual approach in arguing both for and against the topic creates a text that any reader to relate to. Elbow’s reasoning for this however, is to prove that the argument about using voice in writing cannot simply be either you do, or you do not; It has to be that you use both or that you use one and the other depending on the type of writing. Elbow’s main point in presenting all of the information is to show that there have been two sides to this argument for a long time for a reason. No one side is more right than the other, but there is also no “watery compromise” in the middle either. Voice in writing can be both good and bad; it is ultimately up to the writer to decide what is best for their work and for their audience.
My Personal Thoughts:
At first, this article was almost impossible to understand. I could not follow Elbow’s ideas or the direction that the article was headed. However, when he said that there is no “watery compromise” between the two viewpoints, it finally clicked with me that both standpoints were valid. Then, I went back and read further into the “either/or” battle and the “both/and” section. It made much more sense after I reviewed it.
The sections in which he wrote For and Against using voice were very clear, easy to read, and relative. These parts were where I really immersed myself into the text and got the real meaning of what Elbow was saying.
At the end, the article wasn’t as impossible to understand after all. After some re-reading, I got the point loud and clear. And though I’ve never really thought about whether or not to use voice in my writing, now I know if and when I should and how to do it.