I just read a series of posts on Kristen Lamb’s blog on the writer’s voice. If any of you haven’t looked at it, I would recommend it. This woman knows the business, and seems to be a straight shooter to me. Besides that, she’s from Texas. It’s worth the time to listen to what she has to say.
After I read it, I started wandering the house clearing my throat, trying to find my voice. About 3:00 a.m., after too much coffee and too many cigarettes, it got pretty ugly. I was hawking up all kinds of stuff and spitting it out on the page.
Green goobery stuff. One word sentences. One word chapters. Coarse language. Texting abbreviations. Any color of verbage but purple.
After sleeping on it, I decided to try a different tack. I put some honey in my tea and watched arty movies. The true meaning of life came to me… in French. I smiled a lot and thought about getting a cat. The words flowed beautifully, a kaleidoscope of colors and sensations that oozed out of the recesses and dripped onto the page.
There were sentences so long that Tolstoy would envy them. Commas began appearing for my commas. Eighteen letter words came from nowhere… words that I had to look up so I could figure out what I meant. It was all very pretty, but not what I wanted to say.
Finally, I put the tea back in the cupboard and got some coffee. I smoked some more cigarettes and thought about it. The conclusion I came to is this:
I can’t be Tolstoy. I can’t be Elmore Leonard. I’ve been places and done stuff, and all of it has rubbed off on me, made me what I am. Incorrect punctuation and coarse language are part of me, but Tolstoy is too… Elmore Leonard is too. Every author I’ve read has rubbed off on me… just like every person I’ve met has… just like everything I’ve done has.
So… how do I put that down on the page? How do I get across what I want to say to somebody that doesn’t even want to hear it? How do I make them see the things I’ve seen and feel the things I’ve felt?
I’m still workin’ on it.