When I hit my teens I wanted to be a singer. Not because I was any good, but because my step-father is awesome and I wanted to sing like he does. So I joined church choir (when I was still a Catholic) and found out that I, well, I’m not as awesome as he is. I was nervous, tone-deaf to a point, and frankly, could hardly project. So, clearly, singing was not my calling.
I do well enough for the kids at night when they were young enough to still want a lullaby and I do pretty well at Rock Band, but ultimately a music contract is not in my future. Around the same time I also tried my hand again at being an artist. My best friend, who is a jaw-dropping fantastic artist, attempted to teach me. It failed… miserably. Apparently the only media I can create any type of art is with the computer.
Fine, okay, so be it. I can deal. Sort of. I still pine for both (singing and drawing), but the truth is, my medium is the written word and I can’t complain about it… Okay, I can complain, but I’m happy to complain about it (don’t try to make sense of it, I can’t either). So why share all these little tidbits about myself? Because in thinking about it I have found there is a correlation between singer and writer. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like there is, but wait for it, I promise it’ll be good.
The voice, or our voice to be more precise. When we sing, we project and (hopefully) dazzle all those listening… or cause them to scream and cover their ears begging “Make it stop!”, whichever is applicable for you specifically. When we write though, the voice is harder to recognize and identify. Whether we’re talking, singing, or slurring after a good bottle (or two) of quality wine, our physical voice has a cadence to it. A rhythm that is as unique as our finger prints and it carries through in what we write. It’s the cadence of the story, it’s tempo. It’s a direct reflection of ourselves as we put words to thoughts, ideas and emotions that we weave into a story that, hopefully, others enjoy.
Our voice comes out in the characters, the descriptions, the setting, even in the little pieces that readers will probably never seen. It’s not easy and being able to take what we hear and move it to what we write is especially difficult. For blogging, it’s about being ourselves. We have to enjoy what we’re blogging about as well as the topic that we’re talking about. How we present it, whether it’s through the image of talking to a close personal friend or even to ourselves, is a further reflection into us. But, I think, when it comes to fiction writing (perhaps even non-fiction writing), the voice takes on a different context.
When my primary and only focus was Memory Lane I had the belief that my voice riddled the story. Almost like feeling as if I am the story instead of being the one who writes it. It was difficult to make the division between the story and me. Only until recently did I start to realize that I was wrong. Which was, as I’m sure people can imagine, a bit of a shock to me. “Me? Wrong? Naw, couldn’t happen,” but it did happen as I started Life Without Parole and Ancient Magic. When I put all three beside each other and if I can manage to forget that I wrote all three, I find significant differences in how the story is written.
Memory Lane has an angry tone to it mingled with regret, pain, and fear of self. It’s about struggling and acceptance rolled into a ball of glorious anger management issues.
Life Without Parole has a more contemplative tone that has a resigned feel to it. Almost as if saying with a shrug, “this is how it is.”
Ancient Magic as of now has a tone to it that is clinically removed in some sections and in others it has a heavy feeling of despair mingled with terror of the unknown. This may change in later drafts, but we’ll have to wait and see.
This jives harshly against what I’ve read and been told by other writers. That our particular voice carries through everything we write and to a point, I agree. The point where I disagree is when I find myself confronted with the idea that each story has its own voice too. So, either I’m suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder or fiction writing comes down to the art of singing, changing tempo and pitch depending on the song.
To be honest though, I’ve done very little research on finding my voice, using my instinct more than anything else. I’d also love to hear any thoughts about what others think what a writer’s voice entails. Is it constant between one story or another? Am I possibly confusing the concept of what the voice in writing means as to the POV of the story? Perhaps I am even missing the whole point completely.
I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’d love to have some feedback. Please, friends and neighbors, share your thoughts with me so I may absorb in your greatness. 🙂
- Finding Your Writer’s Voice (aprilyamasaki.com)
- Beginner Writers: Finding Your Writer’s Voice. (debbie-johansson.com)
- The Writer’s Voice – Another Unconventional Definition (theresaw.com)