Discovering My Voice Again

That's what I had to say after reading this post by Kristin Nelson. Wow.

In short, one's voice can be critique workshopped out of them if the writer has a quirky style etc. Often times her [Kelley Armstrong's] job is to allow new writers permission to discover their voice again. (Now it's not to say you ignore craft mechanics, any good writer is going to figure out how to manage both.)

This post was made more profound by reading it after what Amanda Palmer said. "and the minute you attempt to please everybody, you are truly screwed. the moment you attempt to please everybody is the moment you please nobody…including yourself."

For the past several years, this is what I have been struggling with: discovering my voice again. Whenever I sit down to write I hear, "every page needs white space", "more dialogue, less description", "show don't tell", "eliminate all adverbs", "eliminate all uses of 'was'", "I don't normally read this genre...".

I used to have unique stories to tell. Then I became paralyzed by fear of writing the wrong way, fear of forgetting all the advice I got, fear of everyone not liking it. Critique groups had edited my voice out of me. I was writing by committee, which is never a good thing.

The last book I wrote was just for me. Only one other person has ever seen it, and that wasn't until I finished. My current work is also just for me. Critique groups will not see my books. I am hoping to find one more critique partner because I do need to hear when my work is flawed. I just need to be able to keep it in balance with my own voice.

As for finding my voice again, short stories are great for that. I take a prompt and my own ideas, and in only a few words, I can write whatever way I want to. Sometimes the story works, sometimes it doesn't. But somewhere in each of them, there's a little piece of me. A piece I'm getting know again, like a long lost friend.

An author friend once said the hardest part about writing was getting one's self out of the way every day in order to get to the story. How right she was.