Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another Man's Voice

Mr. James Whitcomb Riley, a poet from the last century, has long been my fave when it comes to verse.  'Little Orphant Annie' was one of the first poems that I loved hearing; Nana Johns would read this ad nauseum to us grandkids: we looooved being scared!  (If you've never read it for yourself, you need to.)  Another poem I enjoyed was 'Knee-deep in June'.  I could easily picture what Riley was describing: His word choice - his 'voice' - was fabulous!  When you read one of his poems, there was no doubt that he wrote it.

Voice is something that is unique to each writer.  Mine took some time to develop.  I wanted to write like all of my favorite authors, from Maud Hart Lovelace to PD James.  I was convinced that I could not be a good writer unless I patterned myself - copied, really - after an author whose work was a success.  As you might imagine, I wrote some awful pieces until my own voice began to emerge from under the layers of stylistic plagiarism.

Discovering what's uniquely yours is wonderful.  It's also a gift to your readers.  After all, if they wanted to read a Steinbeck-styled book, they'd probably read something actually penned by Steinbeck.  So keep writing...and don't be afraid to be yourself.  Your readers are waiting for you.

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