If I admire a writer, it will be for two reasons. Firstly, their vision and the ideas expressed and explored. I came to sci-fi late in life but I am astonished by, and drawn to, visionaries such as Asimov and Philip K. Dick and their prophecies. Secondly, I am attracted to elements of style, structure and craft. Sarah Waters, Lydia Davis, Mark Haddon, Frank Cottrell Boyce are wonderful examples. You don’t always find vision and execution in the same piece of work but when you do, it is sheer joy.
Most writing courses and manuals will talk about the way a writer has to find their “voice”, and for some writers, I imagine this might be a natural process; instinctive and deeply embedded.
I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years, been regularly published – even had a bestseller – but still don’t feel like I’ve found my voice. Maybe I never will. Maybe I don’t have one. Or maybe I’m afraid to let it loose.
Reading through some of my older work, I can see that my writing style has changed and, hopefully, improved. But I don’t think I have a style that is distinctly “me.”
When I was in my twenties, I trained for 8 years to be a classical singer, and I enjoyed singing, but never had the dedication to pursue it as a career – nor the talent. And crippling nerves made performing a struggle. So I gave up.
Recently, after a twenty year gap, I had a singing lesson again. I loved it. Maybe, all these years of different life experiences – pain and joy – will help me to find my voice.
Singers express their art through a physical means, drawn from their breath, their essence, their life force. They create their own sound, externalised from nothing, from within. The way a writer creates something from nothing, by plundering the imagination.
A writer has to find that inner voice, that essence, and make it tangible through the choice of words and the patterns they create. But more than that, a writer must reveal what makes she or he unique as a human being and give it form.
It is a mysterious process, this fusion of vision and voice. A fluid, reactive journey of discovery – and it requires honesty and guts.
And how we see the world plays a major role, which I will explore in Part 2.
Have you found your voice?
To find out more about Jane’s writing and publishing experiences, visit her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk
Her recent e-book, Beware of the Horse, is available from Amazon.