Monday, September 7, 2015

My Voice

I've been looking into my voice. Yes, I took a wrench and looked into the mirror. I took a deep breath and opened wide. Down my own throat I went. Ugh! I needed to have gargled more.

After worming my way down, I can to the voice box. I used the wrench to remove the four bolts holding the lid shut. After flinging the bolts carelessly around, I opened the top to reveal the voice strings. Then I strummed the tune to the song "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple.
As impossibly disgusting fun that may have sounded, I think it shows my writing voice. It's a curious, snarky, and fun voice, and I had to learn to embrace it.

I suppose it came to light in the Melseries. The character Mel is kind of a funny weird meddlesome fellow in the spirit of a traditional trickster but with time travel ability. What god-awful things he could do.

President David Lucas (@Owlkenpowriter) of the Saint Louis Writers Guild, a man I would dare call friend, once encouraged me with the words, "You'll find your voice." I was stunned at the time. I hardly understood what he meant. You see, unless you're trained or you take a class, you only get an intuitive sense of what voice actually is without anyone calling it 'voice.' It's the tone a writer sets, the flamboyance or lack thereof. It's the character and persona he puts on to tell the story. Well, to tell the truth it's really not a matter of putting on but of revealing the writer's true nature.

In watching Top Model some time ago I learned one thing. That models have to be honest in front of the camera. That is so the opposite of, let's say, a lawyer who uses deception to make points. A writer needs to show his true self. Of course we are talking about writing fiction here. You can be as stoic as you like in non-fiction and be successful. But in fiction, you have to be honest. Even if being honest means you are deceitful, conniving, secretive, and all manner of fun stuff.

I think this is due to the fact that reading fiction is a very personal and emotional activity. You may not want to share it with other people, at least not everything. You may find a forbidden pleasure and want to keep it all to yourself. That's great and wonderful. To get the reader to react and experience such joys in others, the writer must be vulnerable. He/She puts out their whole persona(s) into text(s) and sends it out into the world hoping for good returns.

Sometimes harsh criticism and mean comments return, but the worst is silence. Silence means nobody cared. That nobody paid any attention. Criticism is a pussy cat; silence is a killer.

Back to the voice. I found a wonderful article that help me. It gave me exercises to do to reclaim or be aware of my voice. Jeff Goins (@jeffgoins) wrote the article and it was titled 10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice. I'm sure there are other good and well written articles on this subject, but this one worked for me.

As I worked through the exercises, I did it on a document and saved it in the folder with all my other writings. That way I can refer to it in the future and, perhaps, add to it.

Well I think I have a grasp on my voice now. Just as long as it doesn't go froggy and leap away, that is. Yet, I won't sit on my laurels. I will still work at it and refine it. Writing is an subject in which you never stop learning.