Thursday, December 07, 2006

Finding Your Voice

Lessons I learned from my editor today? (She's a genius, ohmigod. She's SO good!)

No matter how small that niggling voice is, telling you that something isn't working, that voice is correct. It somehow manifests itself obviously and loudly to an editor. Any problems you wrestle with, correct, and are not quite 100% satisfied with, WILL be picked up by the editor. Any change that you make, pre-editor, that seems to be the right thing to do, but doesn't feel right, will be noticed by the editor.

Ohmigosh, she's fabulous. I'm actually excited to work on this essay again!

Okay, new subject: I'm having a crisis.

I'm curious. Your voice? Is it first or third? Do you feel like you've found it? Do you like it?

The other day, at Erica Orloff's blog, she talked about Developing Your Voice. Finding your voice feels great! It's like suddenly all the stopgaps open up, and everything feels so natural and easy. It just fits.

Or so I thought. I haven't been admitting it to myself lately, but my voice has been changing. I keep stepping back in horror, reading it again, and wonder if I'm sounding too write-ery.

See, I started out writing first person. I forced myself to re-read some of my first stories, and I was a little surprised that it wasn't embarrassingly awful. Then I switched to third, because, you know, I was supposed to.

That seemed to work, I guess. I stopped thinking of it as a decision. I never re-evaluated it.

Then I wrote something in a chick-lit-ty sort of first person. Wham! Everything flowed out so fast and easy! I felt like I was "in the zone." Now my third person sounds stilted and weird.

But all of a sudden, my third person started sounding stilted. After my brief plunge in the depths of chick lit writing, I went back to my normal stuff. And all of a sudden, I developed a problem.

My first person sounds like a man.

I tried turning her--it--into a man, and it was too easy. It admired the women. It admired the woman in a decidedly male way. It talked like a man, thought like a man, and even moved like a man.

What the hell is up with that? It's freakin' scary! I swear, I'm pretty darn sure that I'm heterosexual, and that I like men. I mean, I have all my life. I like their chests, no their presence. No ... I like when you stand next to them, and they're emanating that male sort of ... droolness. Pheremones, maybe?

Although, I think women's bodies are more beautiful than men's bodies. Still, that doesn't make me a lesbian, does it? And why can't I seem to get a female voice down?

I'm starting to think that it's because I don't feel like a woman inside. I feel like a girl. When I was young, I felt very old, but the older I get, the younger I feel inside. (Outside's a different story.)

Am I the only one in the world with this feeling? This writing stuff is so hard, somedays!

3 bonus scribbles:

Jill 12/08/2006 10:39:00 AM  

Yeah, the writing stuff is hard. Really hard. But there isn't another job I'd rather have!

Bernita 12/08/2006 12:34:00 PM  

Bingo on the niggling bits.
Are you truly speaking of "voice" or pov?
Sometimes when one speaks of thoughts rather than feelings one is described as having a male pov or perspective.
Should a unique voice be genderized?

spyscribbler 12/08/2006 10:59:00 PM  

Well, I wrote the opening to a novel, in first person. As I read over it, she sounds most decidedly male. I know that if I were a reader, I would assume that she was male.


What I can't figure out, is why she/he sounds like a man, when I'm not thinking of her as a man. I have no idea what to do. She's a kick-ass sort of girl, but I don't want her to sound or feel like a man.

I've never had this problem before. I just assumed that if I was thinking as a woman, it would come out sounding like a woman. It's not!