“My goal in life is to be the exact same person to you, whether you’ve met me for the first time or the 21st time. Your knowledge of me is there from the beginning in an honest, brutal sort of way. Get your writings to be there…in an honest, brutal sort of way, and you’ll have found your true voice.” ~Joyce Jace
Do you hear me? Am I loud and clear? Or am I muffled behind some sort of mask?
Do you ever feel like you know the person behind the words? I mean when you feel more than just the emotion. Have you ever felt a connection as if you are touching the soul of the writer or he/she is touching yours? Do you have a favorite author that you are drawn to?
I’ve recently run across a lot of pieces on writer’s voice. It seems that they all agree that the one thing that distinguishes a voice is author authenticity. I think this is true. A few people have compared my fiction to the style of Eudora Welty. Of course, I felt wonderful. I was all excited and ready to study Eudora’s style, and then I thought better of it. I don’t want to mimic the style and craft of another. Trying to write like someone else might hone my skills but it will not give me a voice. There is a huge difference between skill and voice. I want my own voice to shine through my words.Don’t think I am saying that skill is not important because it is extremely important. I am only saying that without voice, skill is virtually useless.
I think that as writers, voice evolves just as we evolve as people. I know that my own writing has changed through the years. I used to write in search of my voice. My style and subject have changed but the voice remains mine. I feel that I can finally be seen in my finished product. I write just as I speak and think. But most times even though I know what I want to write, I struggle with finding the perfect words to convey my sentiment. I write from my heart and I feel that I am in the words that I choose.
I feel that style portrays voice but does not define it. I think voice is a combination of passion, attitude, personality, experiences, and values. I don’t feel that voice can be taught, that it must be found. It is a reflection of who you are. I think a stronger and clearer voice is created when an author puts more of him/herself into what he/she writes. I think you can be coached to find your voice, but once you find it, it is yours alone. Often imitation feels and sounds forced while authenticity has a resonance to it. I’ve found that while searching the most important question I asked myself was why I wrote. With that answer, I began to write with passion and person. Writing about what you love, what is important to you, and writing from your heart will lead you to your voice. The quality of it or the opinions of others does not matter when your voice is heard. The rest will follow in time.
I have found that when I read I am attracted by a particular style and subject. I don’t read things that are not of interest to me. However, it is the substance that pulls me in. The meat of the story is what propels me to read it in its entirety. Most importantly, it is the voice that keeps me coming back to that author. When I find an author who is unique in voice, I like his/her style, and the subject matter is of importance to me, I will read him/her again and again.
“What is written without effort is in generally read without pleasure.”