The Maiden of Whoville
Happy Friday! I hope you guys really enjoyed learning more about writing voice from the master, Les Edgerton. Right now, I am packing and making ready to fly to Tuscon, Arizona to teach, so today, I’ll be brief and just offer some final observations about voice.
We Must Write for the Right Reasons
Motive is very powerful, whether it is in social media or even our writing. If we are writing to make money, we will have a rough road ahead. Courage comes when we let loose of the fear that our work will ever make a dime.
When “making a living” no longer holds us prisoner, our muse can breathe and our authentic voice can surface. I’m not saying that we can’t desire to make money, but it cannot be our motive or it will adversely affect our writing voice.
First, our writing voice will come from fear, and, because it is a fearful voice, it won’t take risks. It will try to sound like The Hunger Games or Twilight or Harry Potter in order to be “marketable.” We will lose our uniqueness to become a bad copy, the “Rotex” of authors.
Be a special you, you are the only one out there. If we lash ourselves to our art, then this is when genius can spark to life.
For Great Reward, Expect to Suffer
I wish I could give you a formula for success that didn’t involve waiting, rejection and moments of self doubt, but it doesn’t exist. Yet, I will remind you that if we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. Learn to fail. Better yet, lean to fail big. We learn more from failure than we ever will success.
Also remember that those who uphold the status quo. Those who gave up their dreams for the safety of a 401K and a “real job” don’t want you to live your dream, because then your actions will make them look bad. They won’t be able to believe their own self-delusions that their dreams were impossible. So learn to ignore the masses. If we aren’t being criticized then we aren’t doing anything remarkable.
At the beginning of this series addressing voice, we talked about the Impressionist movement. The early Impressionists broke rules, but success hardly came free. Back in the 19th century, the only way an artist could make a living was through commissions. Wealthy patrons often commissioned artists of the day to paint one of their family members or maybe their estate.
Also, painting, up to this point, had always featured noble subjects. Yet, the Impressionists often would paint the loading docks or women washing laundry in a river. Sure we think those paintings are lovely now, because they are over a hundred years old. Yet, if we think back to how those scenes were viewed at the time, it would be akin to an artist painting the front of a Home Depot or a scene from a laundromat. The Impressionist artist faced harsh criticism for what they defined as “art.”
I am certain there are many artists of the day who compromised. They wanted to make money and have the esteem of their peers. Fitting in, making a living, and avoiding criticism were the primary goals…and no one remembers them.
Art Takes Risks
Art, real art, takes risk and often faces rejection. Hopefully if we work hard and hone our skills, our career will take off. H.P. Mallory, a true indie recently made the USA Today best-selling list. She didn’t have vetted back lists for sale. In fact, she couldn’t get an agent and so she gave up her day job and self-published.
Mallory braved rejection and did it anyway. She wrote more books and better books and created her market until NY took notice. She didn’t write one book and magically POOF! to stardom. By being brave and creating her art, she honed her voice. Now she is reaping the well-deserved rewards.
Expect Pain and Criticism
When we are true to our voice and brave enough to break rules, this is no guarantee that others will instantly respond favorably. Many of the now-famous Impressionists lived impoverished lives and had to recycle materials and stretch their own canvases. Many were not highly regarded until the ends of their lives, and they faced years of criticism.
Impressionism as an art form was seen as sloppy and crude. The authorities of the age felt the Impressionists weren’t doing “real art” because they wasted time painting common people and ordinary settings. Yet, I have to say that the painters who caved and made money by painting portraits, the ones who played it safe…are lost to history.
Sure, they made a living, but they didn’t make art.
But the ones who were brave enough to stay poor? The ones who took rejection square on the chin yet kept painting? These are the artists we will remember for all time.
So what are your thoughts? Opinions? Do you find it hard to remain uniquely you when trying to publish commercial fiction? What ways can you find to be more brave in everyday life? Any tips?
I hope you have enjoyed learning about writing voice, and I have to scoot off now to go pack teesny bottles of face wash so they don’t think I’m a terrorist. I’ll see all of you on Monday!
I LOVE hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
As a Reminder!!!
Many of you who follow this blog already know and LOVE Les because I talk about him all the time and make you buy his books . So please, for those of you who have loved Les’s work, please go vote for him in the Spinetingler Award. I know you guys have a ton of books, but you have until the end of April to read and vote for The Bitch… *giggle*.Just go to the link. I hope you guys can show some WANA support for a writer who has done so much to help use newbies grow into trained professionals.