Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finding Your Voice

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.


Anonymous said...

Putting it all out there and being yourself is freeing! I spent most of my life worrying far too much about what others thought of me until recently. Good for you, Pam.

Pam Asberry said...

Thanks, Susan! You are a good friend. :-)

Denise Stewart said...

Well said. Love you.

S.M. Carrière said...

It took me some very hard lessons to learn that the edited version of myself was a) extraordinarily taxing - spending all my energy and leaving me miserable, and b) pleasing no one whatsoever.

After an extraordinary heartbreak that happened despite me ditching me to try and please someone else, I vowed to never, ever do that again.

Once I let go of the paired down version of me (and got rid of the toxic people I had gathered in the process of editing), life got a thousand times better.

I'm certain it will for you as well. You are an amazing person. Never dim your light. You never know who it might reach!

Much love!

Pam Asberry said...

Thank you, Denise. Love you, too. :-)

Pam Asberry said...

You are absolutely correct, S.M.; it is exhausting and pointless to keep up the facade. At the same time, it is hard to tear down the walls, to stop being "nice" to people who give me nothing but grief in return. I am inspired by your example. Thank you for being YOU. :-)

Shawn said...

Good for you, Pam. I've finally found someone special and I know you will too. I had to give up the search and just be myself. And he was right in front of my eyes.

Being yourelf has such an attractive energy, many people will search out that energy and bring with them many gifts.

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

You're doing great, Pam, just being you. Hugs!

As for the writing books: They're great, but my advice is read them and let it go. Your brain will retain the tidbits you need and your writing will improve where you need it as you need it, without you consciously pulling in the tricks. At least, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it because my head would explode if I tried to remember all the sage advice on writing. :)

Pam Asberry said...

I am so happy for you, Shawn. And I will hold onto the belief that what you say is true. :-)

Pam Asberry said...

I think you're right, Carol. Even "Finding Your Voice" was chock full of writing exercises, all of which I elected to skip. Reading all the craft books has been both informative AND immobilizing. I've got to stop worrying about doing everything "right" and just DO it. Thanks for the encouragement.