Thursday, 27 October 2016

Finding My Own Voice

There are authors whose writings have informed my understanding and appreciation of writing as an art over the years. Bruce Courtenay, Maya Angelou, Tess Gerritsen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thomas Hardy, Chinua Achebe, Alice Walker, to name but a few. Though I quote them in my writings and cite their examples, I find it more satisfying and pleasurable when I produce original content of my own. A quote, a poem, an article or indeed a novel. After all, genuine authorship entails being able to create own content.

Writers will do well to read others and explore all kinds of genres. But in the end, they should be able to find their voice. So, what does finding one’s voice mean? How does one even begin to find their voice? Is it in the way a writer chooses their words, expressions, or is it in the way the reader responds to those words? 

Finding my voice is and has been a process. A process those in the know will tell you spans for years. It has been and still is a process of finding, establishing my character as a writer. Depicting my real authentic self in the way in which I present myself to the world through writing. It does not matter which words or phrases I use, instead, it is in the way in which my words and phrases give character to my writing.

The exact nature of my writing should provoke, in my reader, specific thoughts, and feelings. This way the reader gets to experience where the writer’s heart and soul lie, and what it is that drives them as a person.
I also believe that most, if not all writers, are products of their experiences. In my view, experiences are a writer’s most significant resource from which to draw knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Ultimately, it is how we embrace and interpret those experiences which determine the end-product. Our message to the world. Our writings. That end-product is what becomes palpable and tangible when a writer presents themselves to the world regardless of which writing path they choose to take.

My voice is my tone, the vibe, and the understanding readers get when they read me. It is that which people can quickly identify, that unique quality which separates you from other writers. When, in an instant, a reader recognises whose words they are reading the moment they pick up a book, a poem or indeed an article. It is only when this kind of familiarity begins to happen, that one can claim to have found their own writing voice.

Developing and establishing your own voice as a writer, I reckon, will give the reader the choice to choose you. Because, by the time they pick up your book, they would have already made up their mind about your kind of writing. They would've decided your writing appeals, inspires or speaks to their soul. I also think that the only reason a reader will keep coming back to a particular writer is that they are getting something that you as a writer alone can offer. That chemistry. That unique quality. Your voice.

Finding one’s voice is writing in a way that does not seek to deceive or betray what you represent as a person. As writers, we are encouraged to delve into uncharted territories and not to remain stuck in the comfort zone. We are invited to let ourselves go and to soar into the strange realms of imagination and create works of art. We are writers after all. One may wonder, though, if this process of creating, imagining and seeing yourself through strange eye lenses will betray your real character. I say it does not!

I believe that letting your imagination soar affords you the opportunity to develop specific facets of your character that you never knew existed. You cannot betray who you are by allowing your creativity take you to greater heights. If anything, the writer grows and develops as a human being. They extend an appreciation of the unfamiliar and discover a new potential within themselves. This process could be the unveiling of their ‘new self’. The newness that the world has been waiting for. That person, the kind of writer, you were meant to become all along!

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