Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Voice of My Own

2008.11.12 - The letter by a.drian
2008.11.12 - The letter, a photo by a.drian on Flickr.

Have you ever lost your voice? Not the voice that comes from your vocal folds, but the voice that comes through your pen or keyboard--the voice that translates your thoughts and feelings into the language of words. Maybe you're like me, and you wonder if you've ever had a voice. 

Whenever I read a book--be it The Phantom of the OperaAtlas ShruggedWhat the Dog SawHarry Potter and the etc., or One Thousand Gifts--I start writing like the author I'm reading. It might be Malcolm Gladwell, it might be Ann Voskamp, it doesn't really matter; if I'm reading a really good book that inspires me to write, then the next few pages of my own book will sound vaguely reminiscent of that last author. Then I pick up another book and "my" style changes again. The truth is that none of these--or all of these?--writing styles are my own. Read these two snippets:
Pippa had grown up hearing about her genius grandfather. For a long time she had thought that Genius was his given name, but Mama corrected that. Pippa was sure that she wanted to be just like him one day, but she could not imagine playing the piano for so long that she got to be a genius. Monsieur’s interminable “drilling” had not made her a genius in three years. She wondered how long it would take. 

And so it stood for years, its weary stone rebuffing the wind, slate tiles defying the rain, shutters fighting off the mildew, but bits and pieces of things slowly succumbing to decay. The gardens catapulted into activity, reclaiming all the clean-cut paths and statuesque shrubbery with nature’s own wild landscape. Briars and hedges doubled in size and doubled again, vines crept inevitably over stonework, the haunted eyes of statues dimmed with each passing season, and the spirit of the place remained far away, as if it intended to never return. To the eyes of the world the Hall was still and solitary, wholly abandoned.  
In my opinion, these two paragraphs might have been written by two different authors. Perhaps they were: Abigail Ayn Rand Rogers and Abigail Robin McKinley Rogers, respectively.

Do I have a voice?
Have I found it anywhere?
Will I wake up one morning and say, "Aha! Now I have it" and then write like that for the rest of my life?
If my writing style is so easily swayed by what I happen to reading at the moment, is it possible to dig down and find a grain of originality, something that is uniquely mine?
I suppose that this goes along with a little rant I filmed on the subject of creativity and original thought.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a voice that is unequivocally, unshakably yours? Is that even possible? 


patsy said...

Abby, this is a great post. You know, I identify with you. I have been trying to write a book for 7 years. Start, stop, start, stop. I too am trying to find my voice. One thing that I have done lately is to go back and take a strong look at writers who have influenced what I read and how I write. The other day I was reading and it hit me, I like that. That is how I want to communicate. I went back and am editing my work to be the voice I want. I am not quite sure that I am there. I want to change my blog and am not even sure how... To answer your question, I do believe we can find our voice. That is why some choose to read everything a particular author writes. BTW I love the look of your blog.

Abby Rogers said...

Thank you for commenting, Patsy! It's good to know that I'm not the only one in this pickle.

I am beginning to have an inkling in this direction. Whenever I've gotten an idea for a story that I simply *had* to write, I would write it in a somewhat terse, sketchy way (like the first example above). If I have more time and leisure I tend to get more flowery. Perhaps this is a key to what my "natural" voice sounds like.

If you want to change your blog, perhaps it would be best to simply tell your readers your predicament. Maybe you can say that you're wanting to bring out another side of yourself. At the base of it all, I suppose that it's wrapped up in the quote I have at the top of this blog, "open a vein." If we're brutally honest and vulnerable, truthful to the nth degree, then maybe that is when our voice will come out in full force.

Grace Nation said...

*Sigh* I can most definitely sympathize with you! I even remember my Dad saying to me "you know what Hun? You wright just like..(whoever)..." Although he meant it as a complement, it still hurt a little. I wanted to wright like Me, have my own style!
Needless to say I was stuck in a rut...I guess the fact that I love to read (especially different authors) didn't help matters. Long story short, after quite a while I kind of just fell into my own style. I remember reading my old blog posts and saying to myself "Hey, that doesn't sound like..(whoever)..anymore! And with each post I felt more confidant in developing my own style. As long as your expressing the desires of YOUR soul through writing, don't sweat to much about it. Writing develops over time as does your style!
Happy Writing!

Abby Rogers said...

Thank you so much for your encouragement, Grace! I'm hoping that this will happen for me soon, as I think I'm beginning to see what might be the development of my own voice.... I'll just keep writing!