Saturday, September 6, 2008

The year my voice broke

The other day I talked about reccurring themes in a writer’s work. Themes recur in blogs, too, and I’m airing one today: voice.

Such a precious thing, so elusive, so delicate, so vital.

I actually found my voice late last year, even though I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Nearly thirty years of trying to write what I thought I should be writing. It was a long time before I questioned whether it was what I wanted to be writing.

I’d heard about voice and how it couldn’t be described, exactly, but it was the one thing that made you unique, made you stand out. That sounded like a cop out to me. It was a lot like being single, when all those well meaning but patronising friends and relatives tell you how you’ll find the right person. One day.

Yeah, right.

But I did find that person, and I did find eventually find my voice. It just never occurred to me that when I found it, the darn thing would come with an ‘under construction’ sign around its neck.

It seems voice slowly evolves as you improve as a writer; it broadens and strengthens and increases its range as you do. I guess this means you’ll always be watching that line – be true to yourself, to your voice, but allow enough room to grow.

That’s scary and exciting at the same time, but ultimately great news. Change is a good thing, and it doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong with your voice. Having yearned for it so long, it seems only natural we'd be afraid of losing it.

But as long as I keep sight of my line, I’ll be fine. And so will you.


Erica said...

At the risk of sounding like a recurring theme myself... ;)

Voice for me is about fearlessness. If you've got your finger poised over the Delete key, and you're thinking, no, I can't write that -- stop right there, and put that cowardly finger away. That's your voice you're deleting.

I think voice is tied in with your subject from the other day about recurring story themes, too. It's a choice not just choice of words, but of deeper meanings.

AJ Macpherson said...

Intriguing idea, E. More on that later, I suspect...