At the Willow Grove Writer’s Coffeehouse this week, our moderator Marie Lamba mentioned that we as writers need to grow into our voice. I thought this was not only very true, but a wonderful way to look at it.
We hear so much about “finding” your voice, yet there is no fail-safe way to locate it. No map. No GPS signal. No gas station to stop at and ask directions. The only way is to write—a lot! Eventually you “find” it. I know it took me a long time to “find” my blog voice. Only several years of blogging found a comfortable voice.
Looking back, though, I didn’t “find” a voice—I grew into it, with practice and the passage of time. Marie pointed out that young writers are mimics, trying on different voices and different writer’s styles until they find the right one for them. This is especially true for chronologically young writers, who may not have found their personal voice in other areas of life yet, either.
But even new writers who are adults in their voice in the real world need time to grow a writer’s voice—that voice that is uniquely them. I believe the growing of the voice is often tied to growing our message. Very often when we writers are first starting out, we don’t really know what we’re writing about. Oh, we know the character and plot, but we don’t always know the deeper message behind the story—the reason we are compelled to tell the tale in the first place.
A while back, Roni Loren talked about author theme—a theme that a writer seems to have in every book, the theme that is the message that is pushing them to write in the first place. We all have one, even if we’re not aware of it. Often the theme is not clear in our early works, but as we sharpen our craft and mature in our voice, it begins to emerge. I realized that all of my current WIPs deal with individuality, with the struggle to be yourself and still be accepted and find a place to belong.
Knowing this, I can now understand why I am drawn to write middle grade and YA—times in our life when we are struggling with becoming an individual. Times when our individuality can flourish or be crushed. Times when we decide who we are, who we want to become, and how to create a group around us who will support us rather than squelch us.
I feel that I have grown into my author voice with my WIP that I’m currently shopping. I finally managed to put all the pieces together in a way that I think is compelling yet will appeal to middle grade readers—honest, not condescending, with a touch of humor. I look forward to maturing that voice, honing it, and letting it shine.
How did you develop your voice? Do you think we grow into our voices?