Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Voice

"A word after a word after a word is power."

Margaret Atwood

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

It’s time to write.  Time to get something down on paper or, more accurately, on a screen.  An encouraging thing happened tonight.  I was reading On Writing Well by William Zinsser, a wonderful book about writing and, according to him at least, I’m a good writer.  To test my theory, I randomly selected five of my older blogs for editing according to his standards.  To my delight, there was very little to edit.  I was already doing the things he recommended.  
This is good, because I sometimes have my doubts.  It’s not that I don’t think I write well; it’s that there are so many writers.  When I was in Santa Cruz and San Francisco this week, my daughter and I visited several bookstores.  Her reaction after a while was to look at all the books and say, “Daddy, I’m so stressed.”
I understand this.  My problem seems doubled.  Not only are there far too many books to read, there seems to be far too many writers writing all those books.  There are novels, westerns, romance, murder mysteries, and horror.  In the non-fiction, there is history, art, spirituality, education, science, sociology, philosophy, psychology and self-help.  In addition to books there are newspapers, magazines, journals, and now the omnipresent Internet, with blogs, news, and more writing of all kinds.  How can I compete with all this?  There doesn’t seem to be much I can add.
But there is something I can add.  There’s something that I have that Shakespeare, the writers of the Bible, Walt Whitman, Amy Tan, Eckhart Tolle, that no other writer has:  my voice.  No one else, no matter how brilliant, no matter how financially successful, no matter how prolific, has my voice.  No one else has my experiences.   No one else has my perspective.  No one else has my story.
So my job as a writer is to know what I want to say and then write my story.  I don’t mean a literal story, though that may be the case.  My story is the thing I want to express to the world.  I might write hundreds of stories, as Kenneth Robeson did with Doc Savage or Louis L’Amour did with his westerns.  My story may be non-fiction.  It may be my spiritual beliefs or my knowledge of the stock market or health or the political situation in Ethiopia.  It may be anything I want it to be.  I’m not a reader of Harlequin romance novels, but hundreds of writers are able to write their stories through these.
There’s more to this, but I’m tired.  The last time I was this tired, I didn’t finish the blog for almost an entire day due to circumstances.  So I will finish now and write more tomorrow.    I have more to say.  I’ve found my voice.