Good morning, Mamas!
Driving home from critique group the other night, I mused on a comment I’d received. One of the ladies mentioned how–reading my pages–she’d settled in and enjoyed my voice: funny, sassy, and rather like reading up on a friend.
First of all—grin—who doesn’t want to hear that, right? A Good critique sends you sailing. Still, I had the constructive criticism knocking about in my sifter, rolling over the nuggets of wisdom to add to my WIP. I returned home at 8:30 pm to all the lights out downstairs. Goody! My hubby got the girls upstairs and ready for bed…CRASH! BOOM! Thunderous footsteps sounded as they charged across the upstairs hall and dove screaming with laughter onto their beds.
Uh-oh. They were getting ready for bed “Daddy Style.” Still, they had teeth brushed, hair combed, and faces washed. But ready for bed? Puh-leeze. Not even close. It took a good half-hour more to get my 3 year old daughter to snoring. My older daughter, almost 5, was properly bribed (with her birthday tomorrow, she’s in a very bribe-able place) to stay in bed.
This got me thinking:
When I get them ready for bed my voice is soft. My tone is smooth. Foreheads get kissed. They say prayers in their sweet, lilting tones. I invent a story for them for the night. They yawn. We rub noses like Eskimos, and out the door I go.
When Daddy puts them to bed—he starts by tickling them. Everyone giggles. They jump from bed to bed, completely riled up, and either:
- I end up with everyone sprawled in my bed
- I do the above ritual anyway.
The point is—as parents—our voices are unique. A writer’s voice is an ethereal thing. When you pick up a book, you like it or you don’t. It sits well with you, or it doesn’t. Unless you have to read something for school, chances are you’ll end up with a stack of unfinished novels on your night table, or reaching for your old standbys; authors who never let you down, because their voice is as familiar to you as your own child’s.
Most of us—I know from reading many of your bios—are Jane Austen fans. We love her voice. How she draws readers into what are now historical regencies, but were actually contemporaries in her day. We cry with her, laugh with her, fall in love with her over and again. In a more contemporary vein, I’ll follow Nora to the Pagan Stone, through the Valley of Silence with vampires, or on just another romantic romp with a sassy heroine and the man she almost misses falling for. It’s her voice. I trust her. She’s not going to leave me in a lurch on page 346. She’ll take me just where I want to go.
So, how do we find our voice? Like our babies, we each must practice as writers. We gurgle and goo, and cliché our way through early tales. We struggle to find our voice, tell our tales, and then—even more importantly—to be willing to share our stories. Whether we share them through the careful review of our critique partners, or ultimately with agents and publishers, share them we must because this is the desire of our hearts. And like our children, we stumble and fall before we get it right.
What’s your take on a writer’s voice? And which authors would you curl up and read, or hurl across the room in disappointment? Everyone who comments’ name goes in a hat tonight – and the birthday girl will draw the winner: A preview copy of By Another Name, by Ashley Ludwig – releasing April 11, 2009