It sure was nice to take a few days off this week for Christmas. During that time I was able to unplug and enjoy my time with the people I care about so deeply. I received several gifts which I’m sure I’ll be sharing in the upcoming week and many of those thoughtful gifts were ones that encouraged me to hop back on my train of writing.
Usually, I read two chapters from Bird by Bird on Saturdays and post summaries immediately after reading. With the holidays, I’m a little off schedule so although it may be Tuesday it feels an awful lot like a Saturday to me.
I’m nearing the end of the book today and I’m starting a section entitled, “Publication and Other Reasons to Write.”
Writing a Present
Anne Lamott begins this chapter with, “Publication is not going to change your life or solve your problems.” (Lamott 185) The reason she makes this statement is to show that if you are only writing with the goal to be published then you will never be fulfilled. You have to find intrinsic reasons to write because having work published will leave you feeling empty if it is your only motivator.
Lamott has written several short stories for people in her life that were near death. Her father with a brain tumor was able to read a short story about Anne’s siblings and herself and how they were dealing with the diagnosis. Her best friend, Pammy, was given a short story before her death about memories that Lamott had made with her. In this chapter she gives several examples of times where she handed a story to someone she loved that made a difference in their demeanor and their lives.
For me, I could see myself giving the gift of stories to the people that mean the most to me. They may not be on their death beds, but to hear the words of their influence and effects on me through writing might be one way to show someone how much I treasure their relationship. This chapter was very inspiring and helped me to fix my gaze somewhere other than on the publishing world (which sucks by the way.)
Finding Your Voice
“We don’t have much to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go into.” -Anne Lamott
We all have our favorite writers. For many reasons we resonate with their style and when they describe the world we feel like they are seeing it from our perspective. Because we are so touched by their writing we try to emulate their voice, but in the process of trying to mimic the writing of another we trade our originality and become a fake.
Throughout the process of my first book it is obvious when I was reading certain works. I would take cadence and rhythm from people like Markus Zusak or Ray Bradbury and transpose them into my own work. (Which is why it is a good idea to read a different genre than what you are currently writing.) I love the way both of those authors pace their writing and when I go through my earlier drafts it’s clear when I made a trade with the sea witch and handed over my voice.
It has taken me years to uncover my unique voice. It took a lot of soul searching and honesty on my part. From feedback and responses to my work I think that my trademarks are forming and I’m slipping out of the comfort of someone else’s brand and into my own. As a new writer, it is okay to take inspiration from another, but as I’m trying to make a name for myself in the writing world it is time to assume my own persona.
Finding your voice isn’t easy. We all have a monster, but the writer’s job is to open those doors that the world says to keep closed. A writer’s task is to face those demons and slay them with language. It is a scary world as a writer, but when you face those giants and put the fears to rest then you are left with an original voice that has never been heard before.
*This Saturday I will be finishing Bird by Bird and giving away an ARC copy of the book. Come back Saturday for details on how to receive a copy of this book.
The Ameri Brit Mom