Deb Erika Had To Wait a Long Time To Hear Voices

If there is a Holy Grail in writing, I would say it’s finding one’s Voice.

So why is it so elusive?

Well, for one thing, it’s not something you can really describe, yet it’s something you MUST have to establish yourself as a writer—Um, huh?

Much like the often-tossed-around term “High Concept” (which I am STILL not entirely sure I get, by the way) “Voice” can overwhelm and intimidate, terrify and inspire awe.

A: What is it, anyway???

And B: How long will it take me to find it??

Answer: No one can really tell you.

(See what we mean?! Ack!!)

Yesterday, Deb Joanne challenged us to come up with a possible definition of voice during this week while we discuss the subject so I thought I’d give it a whirl. (This is after all a dance floor, right?)

To me, voice is what makes my writing uniquely mine. It doesn’t mean the subject matter as much as the way I express it. It is the way I pace and plot; the way I have my characters think, the things I say and sometimes more importantly, the things I don’t. It is a tone, a mood, an emotional setting.

As for how long it takes to find it? That depends. For me, it took a long time. It took writing many, many manuscripts—and in many different genres—before I felt as if my words flowed in a way that I could comfortably, safely call “my voice.” The journey—not unlike the journey to publication—will be different for everyone.

Is there a way to hasten the process? I’m afraid not. Since voice must be something authentic, it comes when it comes. I know the writers whose voices move me, inspire me and leave me breathless with admiration. But that voice belongs to them alone, and can’t be duplicated (and who would dare try?!) Instead, trust that as you write, as you plot, as you develop your characters and your pacing, your voice will reveal itself.

And before you know it, you will have discovered the elusive thing that still defies definition.

(Just don’t tell Indy.)

So now it’s your turn, friends…How would YOU describe “voice” in what you read and/or write?

15 Replies to “Deb Erika Had To Wait a Long Time To Hear Voices”

  1. I’m going to blithely ignore your question (because, like you, I can’t pin it down) and just say how happy I am as a reader that you found your voice, because I love LITTLE GALE GUMBO so much! The feel, the mood of the book…well, it just FITS.

    One thing I will add, though, is that whatever voice is, it’s mutable. It grows and evolves, the same way language does. I don’t write with the same voice now that I did years ago. The elements are similar, of course, but the nuances shift all the time.

    1. Oh, thank you for saying so, my dear! And I will say the same for IN A FIX! Your voice in that novel is just perfect–as our readers will find out for themselves in a matter of weeks!!

      You raise a really good point about voice–even when we “find” it, it doesn’t stop evolving, does it? As far as the journey, if I could stomach re-reading some of my VERY early manuscripts (you know, the ones that AREN’T on floppy disks–remember those days???)then I’m sure I’d see how much my voice changed over the years. But of course, it would require me actually reading those old, deservedly-rejected novels and, gah! I don’t think I could do it!! 😉

      1. Ha! It’s painful to look back on some of the early stuff, huh? Back then, when I was just starting to learn the craft, my “voice” was more jarring than a pubescent teenage boy’s. *grin*

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Linda that your voice in LITTLE GALE GUMBO is amazing and pulled me along through the interconnected stories of your women in such a way that I felt like the book took me by the hand and led me through the spiral of their stories.

    And I agree also about voice evolving, especially (for me, at least) in the early days of finding it. My early writing is SO wooden and full of crap I wanted people to see and not necessarily the truths that they needed to see. Does that make sense? But of course, as we age and experience more, I think our world view changes and our voice along with it.

    1. Group hug alert!! Thank you, Joanne.

      It’s hard to imagine your writing ever being wooden having read SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE and knowing how successful you were revealing YOUR voice (and let’s be honest, there are LOTS of voices in SMAL–and Lilah hears ’em all, whether she wants to or not! 😉 )

      I think honesty is a HUGE part of voice–and as you point out, honesty comes with confidence in our writing which takes so much time–I’m STILL getting comfortable with my voice and always making sure I’m being honest in my writing, which isn’t always easy, is it?

      1. Jennifer Alcocer – I am working on my piorftloo and I came across your work on one of my friends highlights on facebook. I think your work is amazing. Just the way you capture the couples love right in that moment. I am truly inspired. How long have you been a photographer? Thank you for sharing your talent with the world!!

  3. Hi Erika,

    I know I am really late today it is Wednesday morning at 12:54 am. (just finished playing maj at the house, busy day today).

    But never fear hear I am, and yes I agree with J and Linday, you hit your voice in LITTLE GALE GUMBO and it carried me right to the end (I did not want the book to stop, I just wanted to hear that voice continue on and on).

    Hey all three of you, (can’t wait to hear Linda’s soon, which I am sure will be right up there also)
    are great with your voices, take it from me I am DEB BUBBY MARCIA, (hear my voice).

    Just keep writing so I can keep reading. I promise to be on time next week.

    Hey Debs, what am I going to do you are almost finished your year (tears are running)!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Good morning, DM Marcia! You are so kind to say those things–and to come by after your day! And I’ve been asking myself the same thing–what are WE going to do without YOU next year?! Where has this year gone??? (And did you win Mahjong??? 🙂 )

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      2. Gina & Jason -We are so happy for you both! Lucas is absolutely betufiaul and we can’t wait to meet him! Enjoy every minute because they grow up fast!Love you both,Joe & EricaP.S.- the pictures look amazing!!!!

    2. We thank YOU for capturing our moetnms as a family as my little men grow each year. Love, Love, Love the pics so far, so excited to see them all, and thanks again for helping me store my memories of these dudes for years to come.

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  4. Hi

    Yes I won twice in the afternoon and in the evening. Was a good day.

    Never fear DM Marcia will be here keeping in touch with you email is a wonderful invention (and maybe having a visit might night hurt either, I have two lovely bedrooms in the loft, would love to have you both visit, just think I will feed you, what do you say Ladies and if that isn’t possible how about we meet somewhere good for everyone for a weekend, Oh Marcia what a good idea, there is that voice again)

    Have a wonderful week.

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