I have sneezed so many times in the past couple of days that my whole body is sore. Lately I've been picturing grabbing a spoon and using it to dig out my sinuses. I don't really need those horrible, painful, clogged up things, do I? Maybe I could donate them. . .
So, instead of re-reading Paranormalcy, answering a bunch of interviews, tweaking a few last details in Supernaturally, and writing an anthology piece I am . . . well, right now I'm whining. Obviously.
Along with those allergies comes a very funny voice, though. A voice that isn't mine, and that I feel like I need to apologize for when I talk to people on the phone. You know that feeling--how jarring it is to hear the words coming out of your own mouth but not recognize the voice?
I think that's kind of how my third-person books read. There was nothing wrong with the voice--it was a solid voice--but it wasn't my voice. I hadn't found it yet.
All authors have a voice. There is one author I know, and reading her work feels like slipping into a warm bathtub. It's soothing, melodic, flowing. Sometimes it's a problem when there's an action scene, because her writing is so mellow that it's hard to feel the tension, but overall it's a lovely voice perfectly suited to her books.
When I think of my voice, I imagine walking up to you with a big, friendly grin on my face. Then I lift up a baseball bat and slam it into your head. WHAM! WELCOME TO MY VOICE! JUST TRY AND IGNORE IT!
Point: My voice will give you massive head injuries.
Okay, that's not the point. Point is, I have a strong narrative voice. Sometimes I worry I wield it a little too heavily and try to edit it back to a gentle whiffle bat instead of a solid wood one. But it's my voice, and while it does change from book to book and character to character, there is always that underlying style, that tone, that way of wielding it. And I'm happy with it. It wasn't until I gave myself the freedom to really use my voice--to be funny, and sarcastic, and let my characters be characters--that I hit my stride with my writing.
I was talking with a friend yesterday about dystopians and I honestly don't think I could ever write one. I can be dark, I can be negative, but to maintain that oppressive lack of hope for an entire novel? To have to kill my funny? It makes me cringe just thinking about it. I know what my voice works for and what it doesn't, and I've accepted that there are certain genres I just can't write. (For now. I also once said I'd never write first person, which, umm, yeah.)
My favorite authors are the ones whose voices I know I can count on. Their characters are individuals, but there's just that something to their voice that unites even very different books. So, how about you? Which authors have your favorite voices? Do you like/write with a very present voice, or a very behind-the-scenes voice? How did you find your voice? And, for future reference, would you prefer aluminum alloy, ash wood, or whiffle when I smack you in the face?