Friday, December 29, 2006

Lost Voice

I've always thought that in one respect writing short stories and essays is easier than writing longer pieces. Simply because you can hold the entire thing in your mind, it is easier to find your "voice" for the piece. Once you know what you want to say and you can find the tone, the speech and the pacing for the writing, you can often blow it out in a wonderful flow.

A novel is usually different because the pace of the story goes through many more changes than a typical short story while an essay's doesn't often change at all. So a blog entry is something that in theory could flow like water with the proper voice, just like any short piece, but what happens when it doesn't? What happens when you've lost your voice?

In short, the piece isn't very good. Cleverness is usually absent, as is elegance with the language, and too often insight and intelligence. I'm writing this because of my last three entries, which I wasn't "feeling" while I wrote them. Their creation was more mechanical than organic; the pieces didn't feel alive, more like funeral notices or financial report copy.

When I'm working on a novel, I have a certain amount of "good" time I can spend putting actual words on paper. After that, and I can feel it when it happens, the voice dries up and goes away. I can keep pushing the words out but once I've lost that loving feeling, it just ain't as good. Ever.

This happens to me somewhere between eight hundred and two thousand words, usually around twelve hundred, so at least I can get a good chunk done each session. This is one of the reasons I'm not so attached to using specific word counts as a benchmark. My goal is to write throughout that useful period, while my voice is still on key, and be happy for what I can get.

Replying to e-mails is fun because I can often use the original message as a jumping off place and spit out something clever or quirky or, I hope, just plain entertaining without having to come up with an original voice. Sort of a call and response where the one helps dictate the other.

So while sometimes I feel I have a voice for these entries and I'm as pleased with them as I can be as essentially first draft pieces, sometimes it's just plain forced. In those cases, as possibly with the last three entries, there is some information or opinion that is worth reading despite the fact that they may be stylistically challenged.

But that's writing, I think. Just imagine if you never felt it, if you never found your voice, on any piece. Ugh. It might even drive me back to the IT business. Double ugh.


Blogger Doctor Atlantis said...

I hope you find your voice before you find yourself haunted by a talking fish. That's my initial inspirational thought of 2007.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Rick Ollerman said...

Being haunted by a talking fish may be an improvement over what I hear speaking to me most days so that may not be so bad. Especially if he can sing a bit. Do fish know the standards?

6:32 PM  

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