Friday, January 26, 2007

All These Voices Inside My Head

I'm carrying over a bit of the rant from my other blog to here. Well, perhaps "rant" is too strong of a word; it's more an expression of my consternation.

Stewart's comment how he liked seeing people twist his assignments to their own styles is part of what made me dwell on it; the other is all the kind words and positive feedback I received on the assignment I posted. You see, I've realized that I actually have two very distinct writing styles and "voices." Each comes naturally, yet the one that receives the most praise is the one that I often think is the worst; while the one that I enjoy the most doesn't receive nearly as much attention. This isn't the first time I've noticed it, either; it's happened before. I'm starting to wonder if I should go back and dust off all those stories that I set aside without letting anyone look at them because I felt they were too serious and too descriptive.

The self doubt is getting to me. How do you know when what you're writing is good or not?

It's funny, even as I'm writing this, an answer is occurring to me. Maybe the question that I should be asking is not which of my voices is better, but if I'm using that voice to tell the truth or not. Charles recently had a good blog about truth in fiction, and Spyscribbler has posted a lot in her blog about "digging deeper" and not wanting to write superficially. Perhaps my "lighter" voice and style is the one I use to avoid the deeper emotions and hard truths, and the reason I like it is because it lets me avoid those things--yet people recognize it for what it is: shallow. The other style, the one that makes me uncomfortable yet people seem to like, is the one that's more honest.


So tell me, how do you buck up the courage to write about your truth?


Oberon said...

.......just pretend nobody will ever read it.

Kate S said...

Thanks, Oberon...if I weren't so anal, that would probably help. I'll give it a try though. :)

You have some beautiful photographs, by the way--thanks for visiting my blog so that I had the opportunity to find yours. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I checked out your "softer side" post too, but of course I don't have an answer for you. Sometimes I think that merely to be a writer is to have self doubts about your ability to write. Sometimes I think I'm pretty good; at other times I'm quite sure I suck. But people who have read my stuff sometimes tell me they liked it, and I try to remember that. As for your two styles, I say keep them both. Enjoy the whimsy. There's no reason why it should be considered "unserious." But maybe stop denigrating your other style. Maybe you have things to say in both styles.

Kate S said...

Thanks, Charles. I was just wondering if there were some way to "marry" the two, and I think it comes down to truth again. You can tell the truth in a humorous way--even dark, ugly truths (just watch South Park, for instance.) ;)

But you're right, maybe I shouldn't be hard on poor old serious-side-self, either.

Though it's still a tough call as to whether either of them are any good. Maybe I'll just have to accept that it's hit or miss sometimes. Even authors I enjoy occasionally write something I don't like.

Sidney said...

I'd say just do it and don't look back. No one can judge their own work.

I can can remember the first things I ever wrote. It was agonizing to have my father look at them let alone anyone else, but eventually you move past fear, you accept others reading your words.

And usually you move past worry. The things you think will be controversial aren't anyway. The things you write that you think are trivial are the things that turn out to be controversial and then it blows over and if there's truth it sinks in somewhere for someone.

Onward - further - all that.

Steve said...

I let terror be my guide. If I'm not honestly frightened to let somebody else read my work, I'm playing too safe.

Once in college, a couple girls stripped me naked and hid my clothes elsewhere in the dorm. The long slow stroll down the halls (never let 'em see you sweat) was a piece of cake compared to telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.

But it's always those bits whose sharing most terrifies me that actually move readers.

And be kind to your two selves. They'll learn to play together some day. Marian Keyes threads darkness and humor around each other perectly. I'm sure you've got a voice that lets both sassy and stentorian shine!

Kate S said...

How funny, Sidney--I'd commented in someone's blog a few weeks ago that "ever onward" was to be my motto this year. Thanks for reminding me. :)

Steve - thanks for dropping by! Funny did those girls overpower you or what? ;) I guess after that you would have to be fearless. :)

Stewart Sternberg said...

I understand the issue of self doubt. I posted a bit of frustration myself, then zipped over here and found that you too had posted something. However, I think my posting is probably more about the stress at work and my current life situation.

As for voice? I don't think voice is something that can be deliberately worked on. I know tons will disagree. I think it is something that comes naturally. It's one of those intangibles.

Why do some people praise one thing and boo another? I don't know. I do know that you should brush off those old manuscripts and send them off. I have close to fifty short stories on my hard drive, in the next several months, along with the new stuff, I will be lovingly taking each of the old guys out, examining and revising, and then sending them out.

Kate, wherever you are, here, let me pour. A little splash of whiskey over rocks for me. The same for you. Here's to the flowers that grow from frustration, the diamonds crushed from the hours of anger, boredom, and endless self scrutiny.

La Chaim...that's hebrew for "To life." A toast.

Susan Miller said...

"So tell me, how do you buck up the courage to write about your truth?"

Overcoming fear is a process. You'll fight yourself at first, but I think if you keep writing, if you continue to let it flow then the truth will come. You won't be able to avoid it. My tried and true self manipulation technique is to laugh with myself. Understanding that taking myself too seriously will only block what is serious.

Also, I enjoy the phrase, "F*ck it", which I know people think is overused....but it helps me.

It's funny. You can pour your heart out, dig for the deepest truth you've ever known, feel as if you are standing nude in front of everyone, and then realize that people will see what they want to see. Through your truth they will find their own. Thus, it will still be yours. Then your fear will subside.

Kate S said...

Thanks Susan and Stewart. Actually, thanks again to everyone.

I'm noticing a trend here... writers seem to be an insecure and questioning lot. *g*

Maybe we're writing to find answers and meaning, I don't know. Maybe it's the "hook" that JR and Charles talked about--the ones we can't pull out.

Regardless, it sure helps to know that others feel the same way. :)