Voices in the flame

People in publishing talk a lot about voice.

Here’s my secret confession: if I have a voice in my formal writing, I can’t see it. Sometimes I get a glimpse of it, and I don’t like it. It’s too… me. Pedantic, labored, overachieving.

But I DO have a different voice– and I think quite a strong one– in my casual writing. I write for Play By Email games, and there, where I don’t worry about vulgarity, or proper sentence structure, or narrative flow from one paragraph to the next, my voice is strong. Sometimes I’ll write small snippets in response to a challenge on a blog– usually in a comment thread, nowhere that will be seen. Then my voice comes out, too.

I quite like my writing voice, when it shows up.  But I can’t seem to summon it on demand.  When I try, it hides.

Back when I used to draw regularly, the same thing happened with my art. All the work I’d do carefully would have a flavor to it I just didn’t like. The strokes of the pencil, the careful lines and the elegant shading would make me frustrated and miserable. But when I’d pick up a pen and sketch something quickly, to show somebody a thought or to make a tool for myself– those quick little ink sketches I’d love. They were imperfect, tangled, messy– but I always felt like the true spirit of what I was trying to draw shone through.

That could have just been me, I suppose. But it meant a lot that I was happy with those little pictures.

I keep thinking: oh, I should just write a paragraph right now, in my casual voice. Right now! Maybe nobody else will see a difference, but I will and I’ll like it! And then I think: but what will I write? And then I freeze up. After all, a lot of people don’t like swearing.  And it will come off sounding too contrived! And I use way too many exclamation points– even more than I do when I’m being all formal and focused. Yes, that’s the truth.

I think I have to be in a hurry to release my voice. And I’m far too nervous a writer to write blog posts and whole novels in a hurry. I have to do my best if I want to succeed!

All right, though. If anybody wants to give me a prompt, I’ll try to write at least 300 words in a comment, or a whole post, in five minutes, to see if I can unleash my voice.


2 thoughts on “Voices in the flame

  1. Try writing it however you want. If you want to go back and remove the cursing later, you can, but when trying to find your voice, just let it flow. Don’t worry about anyone reading it, write it because YOU’LL like it. Others generally will too….


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