Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?
~ Fanny Brice
I just finished reading Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton. Not a how-to manual, this text explains how to develop your own individual voice - how to ditch the "writerly" style drilled into us in the classroom and make anything we write, fiction or nonfiction, unmistakably ours.
I have immersed myself in craft books the past few months, with instructions on how to draft plot and create scenes, develop believable characters and write realistic dialogue. While all this information is useful and important, it has also been a bit overwhelming. Finding Your Voice has given me the confidence I need to just dig in and write and BE MYSELF. Not Jane Austen or Ernest Hemingway or even Anne Lamott or David Sedaris. One day, I hope an agent or editor will read my submission and find it to be fresh and unique and want to see my manuscript published. One day, I hope someone will pick up a book with my name on the cover and choose to read it simply because I wrote it.
Because they love MY voice.
This whole notion has been very liberating. Writing a grammatically correct but lifeless five-paragraph essay to please a teacher and earn an "A" is one thing; losing yourself in a relationship in an effort to be the person your partner wants/needs you to be is another. I am guilty of both. I have even struggled with how to "present" myself on this blog. Do I portray myself as a product of higher education, an experienced pianist and instructor? An artist/craftsperson who makes things with her hands and sells them on Etsy? A semi-vegetarian, a runner, a health nut? A homemaker, a mom, a pet owner? A single woman searching for her soulmate, navigating the minefield of online dating and getting her heart broken occasionally in the process?
The truth is I am ALL of those things. Until recently, I kept certain aspects of myself hidden so as not to offend anyone. But several weeks ago I made the decision to pull off the mask, to tear down the walls, to BE MYSELF, and the response has been gratifying. I did receive one nasty comment in response to my blog post about "Larry" the married guy, which I deleted because it was (1) published anonymously and (2) written so poorly it was almost impossible to respond to.
You can't please all the people all the time, right? I actually raised somebody's shackles. So maybe I am doing something right.
Whether as a writer or as a human being, I have been an overly edited version of myself for far too long. From this moment forward, I am honest, I am authentic, I am ME.
I am free falling. I am walking the plank.
It's a risk I am ready to take.