Writers are always worried about “finding their voice.”
Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I don’t know all writers. Better put – I’VE always worried about finding my voice.
I always feel like I don’t really have one. Or that the one that I have isn’t good enough. Or something. Whenever I try my hand at fiction, I always feel like it sounds too casual, not “literary enough,” whatever. When I’m not worried about the conversational tone of my writing, I worry about my Message. What am I trying to say? Do I have anything to say? And really, hasn’t everything I have to say actually been said a lot better by several other people?
Is my voice strong enough?
Thing is, if a friend of mine came to me with these stupid worries, I’d promptly slap them and tell them to stop worrying. That your voice is important precisely because it’s yours, and no one can say the things you say the way you say them. So, shut up, stop worrying, and get writing you lazy asshole.
If I could slap myself I would. But we’re, like, programmed to not be able to hit ourselves effectively. Because SCIENCE and EVOLUTION and INTERNAL DEFENSE MECHANISMS. So…
There’s something I’ve noticed about my writing this week, though, as this is really the first full week where I’ve written a substantive post every single morning. (Getting sleep and setting a schedule! Who knew?) My most popular posts seem to be the ones in which I’m 1) honest about what I suck at, 2) honest about deep feelings, or 3) write about what I’m going through. Basically, people seem to like when I write about myself honestly. Which seems crazy to me, because I think I’m the most boring person on the planet.
But then again, maybe everyone does, and they’re just grateful when they can see their boring in someone else’s boring.
The thing that’s become apparent to me in the last few years, too, is that I always do my best work when I’m writing something that scares me. Something that makes me nervous. Something that, when I start to write it I get a twinge in the pit of my stomach and I kinda wanna vomit a little bit.
Oh, I’m sorry…did you think writing was pleasurable? 😉
But seriously, I know I’m on the right track when I start to feel nervous when I write; when I start to worry about what people might think, when I start to think that “Maybe this is too much.” That’s when I know I can’t stop.
And the wonderful response to my most personal pieces kind of confirms that for me. It’s difficult to put problems, or honest feelings, or warts-and-all experiences out there for the world to see. I don’t do it because I enjoy it. I do it, because my greatest hope is that someone else will read it and, even if just for a minute, feel understood. I do it, because I hope that my work will inspire honest conversations among my readers; that maybe, if I’m less afraid about sharing, some of you will be, too. 🙂
So, maybe that’s my voice, my Message, my “thing.” I write what scares me so that what scares you will scare you a little less.
I’m an emotional stunt person, bearing the brunt of your emotional impact so that you can benefit from the result.
You’re welcome. 🙂