We’ve just been talking about voice (and I think I may have more to say about it, but that’s another blog for another day), but this morning I want to show you two articles from two authors who discuss how they each found their own narrative voice.
Meg Rosoff starts by pointing to poetry as an example of strong voice. (My research turned up a lot of poetry as an ostensive definition of narrative voice, too; think Mary Oliver.) But Rosoff has a lot of interesting ideas about it.
In this article—“On Finding Your Voice”—from the Guardian, Rosoff also demonstrates she is of the It’s Magic School of Thought as regards narrative voice (“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are”). She suggests your voice is a result of the connection between conscious and subsconscious.
Now think, for a minute, of your subconscious mind as the horse and your conscious mind as the rider. … In writing, a powerful flow of energy between conscious and subconscious mind will result in extraordinary occurrences. Characters will behave in ways you had not anticipated. Twists of plot will astound you. The part of your brain that concocts elaborate dreams while you sleep will emerge in daytime, informing your story in ways you might never have anticipated.
A book written with an exchange of energy between the conscious and subconscious mind will feel exciting and fluid in the way that a perfectly planned and pre-plotted book never will. Writing (like riding, or singing, or playing a musical instrument, or painting or playing cricket or thinking about the universe) requires the deep psychological resonance of the subconscious mind. It requires throughness and connection, and only then will the reader feel the surge of power that a clever borrowed voice never achieves.
At times it feels as if she’s conflating creative inspiration with voice, but it’s an interesting article nonetheless.
I published two novels, the literary kind, one in 1998 and another in 2004, but even then I knew they were missing something. They had a chilly quality. The writing came slow and hard. There was something inside me that just wasn’t making it onto the page. I hadn’t found my voice yet. I was starting to wonder if I even had one. …
The first time I wrote a sentence about a person casting a spell, it was like I heard distant alarms going off. … It felt good. Better than good: it was the most profound, intense writing experience I’d ever had. … Writing about magic felt like magic. It was as if all my life I’d been writing in a foreign language that I wasn’t quite fluent in, and now I’d found my mother tongue. It turned out I did have a voice after all. I’d had it all along. I just wasn’t looking for it in the right place.
Neither article tells you how to do “it,” but they do describe the feeling of knowing what it feels like to be writing with one’s own voice. Have a look!
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