Friday, November 12, 2010

My Voice Hid For Years

For the longest time I had no idea what people were talking about when they said a writer needed to find their voice. Part of it was the fact that I was concentrating on screenwriting and most of a screenplay is dialog. So did that mean that everyone should sound like me?

I’m not a stupid person, but it was a lot like all those times I tried to see the image in those magic pictures. I would go cross-eyed, tilt my head, and tip the cursed thing at every imaginable angle, to no avail. Finally, one day, probably two years after I first encountered one, I casually picked a magic print at a shop and without my trying at all, the hidden object came into view. It was a kangaroo. A kangaroo nestled within a geometric swirl of colored shapes. I was instantly delighted and laughed out loud.

When I finally found my voice for the first time, it stunned me a bit, but I also felt the joy of discovery. I had written a short story for Woman’s World in 45 minutes. The romantic tale was based on something that had actually happened to me, but was so morphed that no one would have known that but me. I took one swipe at it for typos and sent it off. About four months later I got a check for $1,100 from the magazine and a couple of months later the pleasure of seeing my voice in print for the first time.

When I later became a community newspaper editor and had to do a weekly editorial, I found my voice thundering out at me from my computer screen. I suddenly saw that my expressions were folksy and straight forward. I earned an award for my editorials and because of that reinforcement began to believe in my voice.

Then recently, I had the most pleasurable writing experience ever when I found myself creating a novel in first person. Oh, the rapture of slipping into character and allowing my heroine to say the things that float around in my head, but never cross my lips. Here was my voice in its truest form.

So, like any child will tell you, when you see or hear something you tend to believe it. I now know that everyone does indeed have their own voice and it’s as precious to writers as the definition of self everyone craves. Listen to the rhythms of how you speak and the waves in which your thoughts come to you. Perhaps, try writing something in first person or fictionalizing an event that you lived through. Mostly, believe that you are unique and eventually that will appear in your writing.

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