“Voice” is a difficult technique for new writers to master but, like compost, voice happens. It’s who we are, how we write, what we believe.
I’ve heard that a good actor is one who can be himself in front of the camera. Maybe that’s what defines a good writer, too — one who can be him/herself in words. What that means, I don’t know, except that we shouldn’t be afraid to be who we need to be and to write what we need to write. (You don’t have to be yourself, of course. You can be anyone you want if you can make yourself believe it. And if you believe that this is true, you can believe anything.)
I never wanted to write the great American or the great international novel, I just wanted to write a book people would enjoy reading. But now I want more. I want to be an extraordinary writer.
I know I over-think things. When I’m not writing, I think about writing, which is not always a good thing. But still, I have written four novels, and taken them as far as I can. I know they can be improved, since everything can be improved, but at least one, maybe two are good. Unfortunately, simply being good isn’t good enough. With hundreds of thousands of books being written every year, something has to make one stand up and scream to be published.
Since I am going to continue writing, I figure I have two options: go for quantity or quality. Quantity gets me nothing except more books that I can’t peddle. So I’m left with Quality with a capital Q. But perhaps quality comes from quantity. I recently read that the first million words are just for practice, so I’m halfway there.
A friend suggested that I keep writing and, maybe in the eighth novel, the hints of the extraordinary in what I have now will emerge full blown from the shadows of my former novels.
Good advice for all of us.