|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 Opera, Atlas Shrugged, What the Dog Saw, Harry 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.
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.
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.
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?