Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Voice Stops Here

I've been on a roll lately.  One silly post after another.  But not today.  Today is the day that I pledge to purge my writing woe's.

I recently joined a neurotic group called THE INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP and according to the guidelines, I must dedicate this day, the first Wednesday of the month, to releasing my deepest, darkest writing fears and to support other writers who are experiencing the same.

None of this sounds like fun to me so I'll keep it short.

I love to write.

I can't find my car keys or my sunglasses, but I know where my english assignments are from 1976.

I have all my poems, short stories and journals from my youth - even a list of every boy I ever kissed (along with a cryptic rating system).

What I don't have is a college degree.  Or any published work.  And worse, no interest in reading.

How do you become a writer if you don't read?

Because my goal has always been to write a book, I recently hired an editor and began submitting my work.  That didn't go well.  I never got beyond the first paragraph of chapter one.  Why? (besides the obvious fact that I don't like to be told what to do).  Because her corrections killed what I felt was my natural flow.  And without that, I have nothing.

To be precise, this is what I started out with:  (from a blog post titled The 50 YEAR ITCH)

It is the first Friday of summer, the start of our 50th year. I am winding down the work week on the office front porch. My father sits in his sturdy, classic white, high-backed rocking chair - afraid to rock, and I stand beside him too uncomfortable to sit.  The depth of our conversation is narrowing. 

My insecurities assure me that this is not smart enough so I submit this:
It is the first taste of summer, when placid winds and a tepid sun are in perfect balance. Together on the office front porch, my father sits in his hardwood, classic white, high-backed rocking chair too afraid to rock, and I stand beside him too irritated to sit.  The depth of our conversations is narrowing.  

And these are the proposed changes:  
 Include in the opening paragraph a description of the type of the company so that you do not have to describe it in the following paragraph.

So I submit this:  
It is the first taste of summer, when placid winds and a tepid sun are in perfect balance. Together on the office front porch, decompressing from a work week full of security breaches, alarm malfunctions and schedule changes – typical hiccups associated with running a private security guard agency - my father sits in his hardwood, classic white, high-backed rocking chair too afraid to rock, and I stand beside him too aggravated to sit.  The depth of our conversations is narrowing.  

I revised that in May.  I haven't submitted a word since. Why?  Because that isn't my voice.

I don't know how to make corrections and still keep my voice.

Does anyone know how you do that?

PLEASE don't suggest I read a book.  That will only piss me off.  And yes, I've read Writing the Natural Way, Naked, Drunk and Writing, Writing Down the Bones, Walking on Alligators... etc, etc, etc.

I promise to return to my natural funny self tomorrow. Or the next day. Or by Friday at the latest.

Right now, I'm heading to a bar.

I just heard that I lost another friend - a former flame (this is my second).  55 years old.  I referenced him on Monday, when I wrote JUST SAY NO.  He was the boyfriend that insulted my sisters dog.

Although we had not seen each other since 1982, we wrote to each other on and off for 37 years.  He was a badass with baby blue eyes.  Here's to you Newhart.  Wherever you go, show them who's boss!


  1. The only way you are going to keep your own voice is if you keep your own voice. Not every editor has the 'right' changes for you. Just go with your gut and be true to yourself. I changed my debut to fit what editors 'wanted' and I destroyed it. It took me years to get it back into shape. And it didn't get published until it returned to how I had intended it to be all along. If an editor's change is right for you, you wouldn't be trying to battle with it. So just listen to your instincts. (whisper: you don't read? How is that possible???)

  2. I know how to read, but I have an incredibly difficult time focusing on reading a book (in its completion). The last book I finished was Lovely Bones and that was a very long time ago. I have LOTS of books I've started. P.S. LOATHED Eat, Pray, Love. Right now, I just read self help books. Those I can read. At least I'm able to acknowledge that I need help :)

  3. LOL. I haven't even attempted Eat, Pray, Love so you're ahead of me there ;o)

  4. Write your first draft with no thought for anyone but yourself. You can worry about the rest after that.

    Also, I haven't been following your blog for very long so you might have mentioned this already, but have you tried audio books?

  5. Hi Sarah!
    Yes, in the car, during long rides. But its hard for me to concentrate on audio also. The other bad thing I do is compare myself to authors when I read. "Oh, I'm not clever enough to write something that good" ... before you know it, I'm drinking scotch, straight. (not really)

  6. Voice is a difficult thing. If someone suggested to me I needed to write with more colorful prose and in depth meanings, I couldn't do it. I write simple. Just have to find a balance between your strengths and quality writing. You can do it!
    And I'll go fix your link right now.

  7. Screw the changes! Just write it the way you want!

  8. I am going to suggest a writing class online
    Nancy is talking about holding them. N.R.Williams is her blog's name. Maybe there is a writer's group in your town/city. Check out the library and local bookstores to see if any happenings~
    Also maybe you should write poetry. I do think audio books would work for you. Just pour your heart on the page, editing happens later~

  9. I think you should just write the way you do here.

    Then hire a proof reader.

    Then have a shot of 'bucca for me. :)

  10. You are all wonderful! really........... thank you!

    p.s. I was going to do tequila, but .....bucca it is! CHEERS~

  11. Your first draft was the best. You can't be writer and editor at the same time, so write your story, then put it down for a couple of days and come back to do your editing. One thing that helps me is reading my work out loud. Mostly, though trust your voice and don't pay others to give you notes. Only take notes from someone who's paying you to write for them or a bonafide editor who's considering you for publication. Now write on, my friend!

  12. I liked the first version much better--possibly because it followed your post and it DID feel more like you.

    My suggestion? Keep writing. I suggest you find CHEERLEADERS for your first draft... people who love you and will encourage you. You can worry about making it publishable after the book is done (in fact in MY experience, my 4th book was about when i figured out how to make my first one publishable) You learn with every word you write (yes, ideally you want to read--fiction, in a genre you like--ideally the one you think you want to publish in... but do it so you enjoy it. Reading is supposed to be fun. The biggie is write. This process is a marathon... and worrying about perfecting chapter one before the first draft is done is probably a waste (because it may be completely changed ANYWAY because of later action in the book)

    Honestly, i encourage you to try NaNoWriMo--get the first draft out FAST... get the book WRITTEN... then look for feedback... large and structural first--you don't get to the chapter level stuff until later.

  13. really good advice Hart! Thank you. NaNoWriMo makes sense!

    I'll look into the class Ella, thank you.

    Jennie, you make perfect sense!

    Alex, I am overwhelmed by the support your insecure writers are giving me. THANK YOU!

  14. Julianna, cheers!!!!
    Jayne, I am always thrilled when you read me! really appreciate your 2cents

  15. I have no help for you because I also am an insecure writer. I just started reading your blog. I think you write very well, I am an English teacher who is retired, soI do know good writing when I see it.

    My girlfriend and I had a writing group of two for a short while. We ended up talking more than writing, so that was the end of the writing group. I think the key is to keep writing, and to do it in a writing group. I have seen great development when writers share with each other.

  16. Thank you Retired English Teacher! I have a really good friend who is also a writer, but we never talk about writing when we're hanging out.

    Honestly, I feel inspired by everyone who commented today.

  17. I would just sit down and let everything fall out of my head onto the page. Edits on a piece before the first draft is complete will stall the flow of ideas and kill a story before it has a chance to live. NO ONE writes a perfect first draft. A writers group might prove more helpful at this stage, instead of an editor. Good luck!

  18. Laura, I appreciate your comment, I agree, no need to stall the flow! and .... really love your profile picture!

  19. we care
    and believe in you-

    (check out my little novel 'Aloha where You Like Go?" on amazon :-)

    Warm Aloha from Honolulu;

    Comfort Spiral

    / )

    > < } } ( ° >


  20. ahhhhhh you believe in ME !!!!!!!! so important. Thank you Cloudia! Something I've been waiting to hear my entire life.

  21. I like simple, so I don't see anything wrong with your current voice.
    And I have boxes of my old short stories and song lyrics. I know right where they are located, too.

  22. Well, I have been here all along with the original voice don't go trying to throw me now. Though I have never actually heard the monkey voice I love the monkey.

    What bar? I'm bringing a book for you to read. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  23. I'm not sure if this is appropriate, but the guy who just died - the bad ass boyfriend - according to my rating system he got a 4 out of 10 for kissing. but a 10 on his eyes (bright blue,deep set.)

    Jules, I'm sorry... I left the bar but I'll fb you 24 hours in advance next time ;)

    I'm glad you said you like simple Diane! I'm trying really hard to keep it that way and I really appreciate everyones feedback.

  24. hey!
    just stopping by from Alex Cavanaugh's blog... on the Insecure Writer's Support Tour!
    i agree with some of the comments above... ur writing/ voice is fine...... and u got an A from a retired english teacher! whats to be insecure about? lol

    "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do"

    -Steve Jobs

  25. wow..... thank you Jeremy! I'm really focused on the genius loss right now so that quote was exactly what I needed. THANK YOU!

  26. Writing is obviously very important to you. You need to do it for you and not for anyone else. If it makes you feel good and happy, screw everyone else.


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison