Wednesday, April 27, 2011

That Special, Secret Something

I stole that title from Krista V's blog post about Fear. It got me thinking, again, about the spectrum between assembling words and really writing. (I just thought up those terms on the spot, so I'd better define them to keep them straight in my head. And yours.)

Assembling words:  This is what I do when I line-edit a scene to death and back again. (Or more frequently, just to death.) It's like building a brick wall, a tower of blocks. I do it one piece at a time, carefully choosing and lining up each word, seeing only the bit I'm working on.

Writing:  The fun way to tell a story. I sit down with a few thoughts and let them carry me through a scene. Most commonly done when drafting or rewriting sections, I've heard this described as the writer's trance or the zone.

Now, most of what I simply sit down and write comes out badly formed and requires some assembly. When I first started going to a writing group and getting critiques from multiple people one chapter at a time, I did a lot of reassembly. It really helped my writing—sort of. I cleaned up a lot of redundancy. I learned better how to show instead of tell. I learned how to use dialog tags. I also lost my Voice.

Ah, Voice. I don't know how many times I've seen agents say that's primarily what they're looking for. It's always among the top three on everyone's list. There are also numerous helpful (and less helpful) definitions and tips for finding your voice. I've yet to see one that really clicked with me.

But I've settled on something that feels right to me, makes sense, and most importantly, gives me hope. Because if there's a special, secret Something that my manuscripts need to reach an audience, it has to be something I'm capable of delivering. And I think that something is me.

Yes! Me! I'm so awesome, who could resist?

No, actually it's not just me. It's everyone. And all writer's know this to some degree. We tell each other shades of this all the time. Write what you care about. Write with passion. Write what you have to, what no one else can write, etc. etc. etc. We're all chasing the same notion, aren't we? That's the feeling I've picked up from y'all out there on the Intarnet.

I won't try and sum it up one neat little mission statement. I prefer to leave it a nebulous feeling in my gut and simply call it Voice. After all, if you pin a recipe on a secret sauce, it loses its allure.

I will share my motto:  Write fearlessly.

I feel every fear that Krista spoke of, in spades. Driving in the car, sitting at work, lying in bed, I can think of a million things to fear. I do my best to set them all aside while I'm actually writing. Whether I'm writing or reassembling words, I try not to strip out that special something, the traces of myself in my writing.

And in honor of that philosophy, I'm not going to edit this post at all!

What do you think; did I completely miss what's meant by the term voice?

2 comments:

  1. I think you got it exactly right. Your voice IS you. It's that part of your writing that's uniquely yours, that has nothing to do with following the rules.

    And like you mentioned, I'm afraid we sometimes beat it out of beginning writers, which is a real shame. That's precisely when a writer needs the space to find his or her voice.

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  2. Well yeah, I think this is spot on, my friend!!!

    And Happy almost Anniversary to you as well!!

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