Monday, April 16, 2007

Speaker's Corner

Seminar Question #4

How To Trust Your Own Writing Voice

There was a question that came out of my writing group, The Waywords, which I thought was worth putting out there to the masses, as it is something that I believe every writer struggles with. Okay, we know we are writers, but we spend a lot of time trying to 'find our voice'. We absorb the words of the great writers armed with the comfort that good writers borrow and great writers steal, but when are we secure enough in our own voice and stop looking to others to say 'here's my poem, fix it'.

Now don't get me wrong - the idea of workshopping is a great tool, but there is a fine line between useful critique and giving someone your poem. You have to also trust the critique and come into a situation knowing on some level where the poem needs tightening - there is already some work that's been done. Individuals at a reading will arrive with their own tastes, and you won't be able to cater to all. That's not your goal, and there is a danger that sometimes those who work on your poem are really writing their own poems.

I realize this is a tender area because most writers have editors. Bottom line - I believe the writer first needs to trust in the direction a piece of work is meant to unfold, in the hard centre of what brought it into existence, and not be lead far elsewhere. The individual writing voice lies in the organic tone of the piece, where the line breaks fall, even if they are gently shifted in places and, most of all, the writer needs to be able to spearhead the suggestions of the editor as they come and not feel as though they are being led down a path that doesn't feel, well, like the intended writing.

Your voice may sound familiar to you from something you heard or read somewhere else - a certain reading voice or a tone of a favourite poet - and the more you interact with literature, the more muddled your writing voice may seem. Isn't that the beauty of finding your individuality? Don't we all take in thousands of pieces of media a day to sift through and decide how we will rearrange it to accommodate our lifestyles and own sets of values? Still, the writing is yours and the work will find its own place.

Thoughts? These are merely mine.

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