It's pretty sad, isn't it, when I Writer doesn't post on his blog because he can't think of anything to say. Truth is, I can think of lots of things to say, I'm just concerned that some of them will have me hauled off to spend the rest of my days longing for TV time and crafts that involve nothing sharper than a boiled potato.
I wanted to talk about voice a little today. I'm not sure why, it seems to be the most elusive of writing subjects. I think, because, it's really nothing that can be taught. It just happens one day. You're writing along, having written thirty chapters of your novel, each one sounding like a different pre-schooler had written it, when suddenly—wham! You have a voice. Does it work that way? Beats me. All I know is nothing I write sounds like me. And if it does sound like me, it'll never get published.
So how do you get there? When does your writing stop sounding like something your English teacher would be proud of and start sounding like something interesting? There are a lot of not-so-good writers on the best seller list because A)The stories rock and B)They have an interesting voice. Okay, there's more to it, I know, but you get my meaning. We all have writing buddies who, if we laid all their manuscripts side by side, couldn't tell who wrote what. The writing is fine, there are no weak verbs or POV jumps or any of those other deadly sins, but it just sort of lays there, like a healthy meal.
Sometimes, maybe one sentence or even a whole paragraph, we see our voice pop out. "Hello!" it says, then slips away again like a chipmunk in a rotted log. You keep trying to catch it, but it's too quick. People who know me will tell you I'm a bit "flippant." I think that's a nice way of saying I'm a smartass (If I write it as one word like that, it's not swearing). And when I write off the cuff, that comes out. But when I get "serious," and shoot for some good suspense, I sound, well, serious. And who wants that?
So, I'll let y'all know when my voice happens. It's kind of like waiting for puberty, I think. You look down one day and scream. I don't think I'll scream, but I will get out my butterfly net and nail that little sucker before he sneaks off again (my Voice, I mean, get your mind out of the gutter).