This blog post will be about something that I have struggled with a lot as I have grown as a writer. I am hoping that at least one of you out there will understand with what I am trying to convey. It is clearly only MY opinion.
Pardoning the pun, backstory.
All of my life I have written, As a child I used to write fake stories and provide my neighbours with newspapers. I lived in a small cul de sac and I imagine they were amused by my attempts. I later moved on to poetry and then on to really bad angst ridden teenage books.
But It didnt matter then that no one saw my work because I had no idea how you became a writer. I had a few poems published in Anthologies, which looking back now were most likely vanity publishers. My love of the written word continued and I amassed a back catalogue of poetry running into the thousands.
It wasnt until six or seven years ago that I realised that I was good enough to write a real story, and thats what I did. I had had an idea floating around my head and so in an old book and with a pencil pinched from my sons stash I set to work.
Letters to an absent father was born and I loved it. Looking back with hindsight I was way to naive and way too trusting of my abilities. I stuck it on Amazon and my friends and family rated it. In a way families and those who love you do. But in honesty it wasnt ready. Other books followed and up they went on Amazon with the belief that this was the dream, this was where people would see me, my worlds and fall in love.
It was about this time that I stopped and looked at what I was doing. With a further nine books written (now 13) I knew if I was going to take the art of writing seriously I would have to study it like a job. If I wanted it to be serious, then I had to be serious about it. And so with a brand new notepad I set about researching everything I could about an industry that doesnt make anything easy.
Over and over again after all of the basic writing rules the one thing that came out over and over again was that you had to know and have your own voice.
The way that people will read my words and know it is me without being told. The way you know a Stephen King book without seeing his name. Or a J.K Rowling book without knowing she has penned it. But finding your voice in a sea of advice is almost like drowning in that same sea that has no live preservers or that many people who are willing to hold out there hands and pull you on to their boat.
Alongside keeping your voice unique you have to work in all of the rules that make up becoming a writer.
You have to know how to start a book, yet keep your voice.
You have to know how to make the book flow and rise and fall in the right places.. but keep your voice.
You have to draw in the reader, make them care.. but keep your voice.
And you have to know all of this and weave it seamlessly into your book so the reader doesnt notice. Yet keep your voice.
You have to follow these rules but remain unique.. special, and your voice should sing its own song above the rules that will determine if you even get a look in.
And my voice is lost.
When I first started writing it was ALL about the words and the emotions. It was never about does this fit into the cubby holes of those in the know in this industry. It was never about am I louder than the structure? It was always about the charactors and their lives. It was always about me pouring out my heart onto the page.
It would seem by learning about the industry I have quietened my voice into a whisper than even I cannot hear. A voice that will never be heard because my insecurities are drowning out every word I have to say.
I dont know who is to blame for that. Me for believing that I was good enough? Or the industry for making it so tough, so exacting that even if I had a great voice it would never be heard over those who can shout louder?
I wonder how many voices are lost because they give up. They see celebrities getting book deals on the back of their names because its all about the money. Clearly not about their voice. How many people never get heard because they do not tick the right boxes. What happened to different… or unusual..quirky..unique?
So for now my voice is silent. And it will stay that way until I decide if writing their way is what I want.
Or if a soft lilting song that whispers stories with no rules, the one that has always been mine. Is enough.