Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why be insecure?

My editor/publisher pointed this out, and I wonder if I'm the only one who suffers from it.

Eric, he said, your short stories feel like they're ~going~ somewhere. But your novels fall flat. You need to bring that same voice to your longer pieces.

And so I'm trying in my latest WIP to do just that -- bring out my short-story (and bloggerly) voice.

Still, there's a roadblock there. It's an insecurity. I have moments of clarity and scenes that pop out in the right voice, but other scenes are flat and balmy and tasteless as lipstick on a cow.

I recently read Gaiman's Anansi Boys. I read that book really, really, REALLY slow, and I read every word of every chapter and the forwards and afts.

I read it all because his voice is so playful, and for years I've tried to be a "serious" writer for my novels, but unleash the beast on the shorts.

Unleash the beast on the shorts. That's sorta funny.

For instance, I wrote a short piece entitled The Devil Gave Me Autumn in my flippiest voice, and one of my readers, and I've had a few say this, mentioned this story was the most Eric of the stories she read.

That's your voice, she said.

And it's this voice, my blogger voice, my hee haw yee haw voice.

But then I read McCarthy and think, I can write like that!

And I can, in small bursts, but it's hard to maintain that droll voice throughout.

I read King and think, I can write like that!

And I can, but his overly-detailed scenes and 200kw tomes elude me.

Elude has only one L, by the way. Inside joke.

I read Gaiman and think, I can write like that!

And I can, and I can sustain it, but after a while I feel too clownish and insecure and start checking my zipper, yep, still zipped up, and do I have a booger, and gads, I think I better delete all this crap before someone reads it, eh.

I don't know. I've been writing for YEARS, and still finding my voice.

I'm wondering: Am I the only one? Do you question yourself as you write, try to still that voice that says, LET ME WRITE!

Do you say, No, no, the world's not ready for you. Hush up little voice and write like they say write.

- Eric


Loralie Hall said...

Yes, I totally do that.

And yes. And ...*thinks*...yes....

I guess that makes us a similar kind of crazy. but it's a good kind, right?

Wine and Words said...

I love your yee haw flippant voice. Cohen says he tries to write outside of his personality. Therein you really wouldn't need "a voice" per say. I haven't been able to do it, but keep trying. I am hemmed in by my own decorum when I write. I want to write more sleezy. I want to write more defiant. I want to write more erotic, or angry. I want to always be more than what I am. I feel so vanilla. YOU have never been vanilla. Let it out! I for it.

Stephanie Lorée said...

This may seem strange, but I don't actually have a "voice." My characters have voices, but I don't.

Now when I started, I wrote things that had no voice. I didn't even discover my character's voice until last year, when a particular protagonist decided it was her time to shine. She taught me voice.

My voice changes depending on the piece: the theme, the mood, the point of view. There are times when I lose the voice and have to recover it. Whatever I'm reading at the time, inevitably influences the voice. So, if I'm writing YA, I try to read only YA.

You have to do whatever works for you. I recently read something where Gina Koch (author of Touched by an Alien) spoke about how she was trying to write serious for years and years. Nothing sold. Then, a friend said to her, "You're funny. You should write funny." So she did. She's sold a bunch of books since then. All funny.

Maybe you should unleash the beast all the time.

Ted Cross said...

I have almost no idea, mainly because I can judge other work really well, but I can't truly judge my own. Also, though I've found a couple of great critters, none of us are at the level that a real pro is at, so I am not able to get the kind of feedback that would really ram me forward.

Summer Ross said...

I'm right there with you- I have a piece I found my voice in- unfortunately that is in nonfiction and I'm still trying to figure out how to drag that voice cross the line into fiction worlds

Phoenix said...

I adore your flippant, let's just get that out of the way right now. You think I'm a boxer with my writing? You're a damn train of hilarity that just keeps knocking me over, usually as I'm doubling over with laughter. Love it.

It's tough to think we're "enough" when the entire reason we usually became creative is because we thought we weren't enough - that we weren't worthy.

So tell your doubt to eff off and go on vacation, and bring your voice and your personality to everything you do and everything you create - otherwise, what's the point?

Go get 'em, Eric. I'll be rootin' for ya.


Raquel Byrnes said...

I think what is so hard about 'voice' for me is that it keeps changing. I thought I found it three books ago, and then I go back and read that first series and it sounds like I was in love with the Thesaurus or channeling a dude that knows way too much about guns and not much else.

Then I go and write first person romance, so my character's voice is distinct from mine...I start to feel like my imaginary friends are a bad influence on me.

I guess we all have those self-doubting moments. The price of growing as an author, I guess.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

EC said...

Hi Eric,

I don't think it is insecurity as much as it is a need for more practice (in writing longer works). Agents always say that few writers are picked up on their first novel, because they are not that good yet. By the fifth one, they are usually getting somewhere.

The same is true with shorter works; most of us have written more of them, and so we've found voice and style, plus with less time investment, we're more apt to 'experiment.' I think once you (and me) begin writing more and more novels (if that's the path you're on) voice and style will come easier for those longer works. That's JMO : )

Jai Joshi said...

You have to be YOU in every thing you write. Whether it's a short or a long, be true to your voice and you'll see the life pop out of those words.


dolorah said...

Yeah, I used to quiet that sexual, rebellious voice that tried to infuse my first novel. I had to go back and add it in. Now I just it have its way.

I don't that I want to have a specific author voice though. I want my characters and the stories to have voice, but I'm not sure I want readers to say, Oh that's Donna's voice b/c she always does such and such in her writing. I think that would limit some of the types of stories people would read from me.

I wonder though, if "style" is different than "voice"? Something to explore maybe.