Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday So What: Why can't I be you?

In case you haven't noticed, my writing style is very conversational and mass market.  I don't have a literary hair on my head. Or on my legs for that matter.

But I long to write the flowing lovely sentiments and imagery that a friend of mine does. Her writing is stunning and deep and ...ugh... and I can't even come up with the right words here. When I had the opportunity recently to write a personal essay about a lesson I had learned from one of my kiddos, I saw it as a chance to strut my serious side. I was gonna make the reader cry, darn'it. I poured over my words, spending hours to find just the right line. For example, "inflicting my pain on the cold and unyielding earth". Yeah, you can probably guess how well it was received in my writer's group.

The central conceit behind my essay was just fine, but the flow was stilted and I was leading my reader to the emotion by the nose. All in an attempt to write like this other girl. Flash forward to me attempt  a few weeks later. I had an idea, it took me 45 minutes to write the 1200 word essay, and I just let the words flow out in my natural narrative voice. This time it was well received. I have a few chuckles and few tears without searching for the flowery or "ensign" words to insert. Just me.

So here's the lesson I took away from this exercise.  I may love the operatic sopranos, but I am firmly an alto. And if I tried to squeak out Ave Maria, everyone would cover their ears. But I can sing something lovely in my own register, something uniquely me. Same goes with writing. As an author, I have to stick with my own voice. I can appreciate and admire yours, but if I try to emulate it, everyone will cover their eyes.

#So whether you write fiction or non, romance or YA, revel and celebrate your own unique style. Don't try to be Dickens, or Rowling, or Twilight. It will always be a pale imitation. Instead shine and create a new original  that others will long to be.

Come visit Smashing Stories for another excerpt from Finished being Fat. "Ghosts of Fat Past"
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  1. Finding your own voice is difficult but essential. I admire and love many different authors and their styles but I don't write their stories. I write mine. I don't have a single literary hair anywhere on my body either. But I have some great explosion and action hairs...

  2. Great advice! I think sometimes it’s fun to write in a style or “voice” that is dramatically different from my own. The result is never anything publishable, I just get a kick out of it and it’s a fun way to stretch my writing muscles. But you’re right- the old adage stands: just be yourself.

    Altos rock, by the way. ;-)

  3. I love this post, Betsy. A great reminder and a common issue we all face not only in writing but in life. We really do need to stop comparing and start excelling at being ourselves.

  4. I love this post. Thanks for the reminder that if we don't say it in our own, best voice, it will never sound sincere. Readers will forgive a writer for a lot of things- but never for being fake. I'm grateful for your straight-forward voice. I like it that way!



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