Author’s give and are offered much advice on the topics of writing and publishing. The deluge of information on good writing, critical editing, successful marketing, and aspects of proper publishing require an Ark to navigate the waters. But there is one truth we seldom discuss—Voice.
Author’s voice is a difficult concept to discuss and even more difficult to offer improvement advice. Possibly for the same reason we can’t define why we prefer one hair color to another or why one set of eyes is perceived as “warm” and another as “cold.” Perhaps the greatest challenge is to determine if author voice is nature or nurture. Is it something that can be trained or is it an inherent gift?
I have no doubt an author can improve upon that voice through many of the things we do discuss—like education and editing. However, it is also probable that for some authors, regardless of the attention to details, the story line, or the character development, his or her voice is just not well-received.
That is a painful truth. It has to potential to suggest that no matter how well one writes, the work will never be liked. The reader will sense that something doesn’t “work” even when there is nothing technically wrong with the writing. It may be just the voice in one story, but for some, it may be the voice of every story. It might explain why some writers have such loyal fans even when those fans find cause to criticize specific works—in general the readers just like the “voice.”
There are goals we wish to accomplish that are within our power to obtain. We can lose weight through our own actions. We can work to create a positive and happy marriage. We can earn more money through our efforts. There are other things that require some natural abilities and sometimes our limitations will, in fact, make for an impossible obstacle. That is not popular to say in a society where we like to think, “everyone’s dream can come true.” For the most part they can, but often we need to be honest enough with ourselves to choose dreams on both passion and aptitude. I’m too short to be in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean I can’t coach.
Writer’s Voice is one of those things—perhaps the most important of things. I want to be a writer. I write books, stories, and blogs. I try to improve my ability and I seek help on the things that others can help with. The popularity and the reception of that work, however, is largely about my writer’s voice. If you like it, you will read my stuff. If you don’t than you will not. But I remain open to the fact that I may not have a writer’s voice that people will ever enjoy.
I avoid the delusion of blaming the reader or claims that “well my mother likes it, so someone else will.” Much in the same way that although my wife says I am the most handsomest Man she has ever known, I don’t go out and apply for a modeling job. There is a reason that love is blind and when it comes to the writing voice it is also deaf. I believe at the end of the day, technical improvements, interesting plots and even well-developed characters only set the foundation. The writer’s voice is the critical element and no matter how much we wish for it—if we don’t have it then we should pursue another dream.
Please don’t cry one tear for me
I’m not afraid
Of what I have to say
This is my one and only voice
So listen close,
It’s only for today
~ Shinedown “Second Chance”
Categories: A to Z Blog Challenge