by Lucy Marsden
As usual, I’ve been finding the posts of my compatriots here at FTWA both thought-provoking and timely. In particular, I’ve been musing on RC’s post about Balancing on the Edge of Your Comfort Zone, and Jemi’s discussion of Writing What You Read.
What I heard both of them saying is this: stretch yourself, and play with different aspects of writing if they call to you and they enhance your process, but don’t sacrifice your authenticity or your integrity as a writer. (And by integrity, I’m talking less about morality, and more about “the state of being whole and undivided.”)
What I think it comes down to, is that we risk diluting, confusing, or really alienating our Voice as writers when we push ourselves to create in ways that aren’t true to us. Voice is ... well, Voice is a lot of things. I think of it as the absolutely unique flavor of our writing. Some of it is world view, and some of it is word choice and cadence, and some of it is our take on the story we’re telling—the list of intangibles goes on and on. I’d argue, though, that inextricably linked to Voice is a sense of vibrancy and vitality in our writing, a zing that has everything to do with being truly engaged with what we’re working on. We’ve all read books or watched movies that charmed us despite the many Craft goofs therein, and we’ve all encountered works that were technically perfect and as lifeless as the moon.
I raise this point, because sometimes, in an attempt to be more successful (however we’re defining it), we kid ourselves into trying on some facet of writing that is not really “us.” Or maybe we do the reverse—aware that it has no resonance for us whatsoever, we don’t leap on the latest hot commercial trend in publishing, and we feel guilty and anxious about it. At these times we need to remember that what our readers (including editors and agents) are hungry for is the piquant, chewy goodness that only we can provide. But we can only bring the zing when we’re truly excited about the story that we’re telling.
And in the end, it’s all about the zing.
Lucy Marsden is a romance writer living in New England. When she’s not backstage at a magic show or crashing a physics picnic, she can be found knee-deep in the occult collection of some old library, or arguing hotly about Story.