Wednesday, March 23
#WriterWednesday: What do you have to offer?
Barbara Kingsolver once said, "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
For a very long time, I thought that quote was about theme...and it probably partly is. We have have themes that we navigate to. I love a friends-to-lovers trope, and if I can throw in the Loving/Finding Yourself theme that makes it all the better. What I've been thinking, though, is that this quote isn't so much about theme or trope as it is our personal writer's voice.
We all have unique experiences in roughly the same place. Liz and Nan are a little older, but we're all over the 35 mark in age, so we have some of the same references. Ask us who the hottest 1980s actor was, and we'll all have a different name (I call Tom Selleck because...well, short-cargo-shorts). Ask which is the best spring flower (I call Nemesia because of the color and resemblance to Orchids). Ask us why we are writers, you'll get another unique answer.
All of that uniqueness creates a voice, a frame of reference that we bring to every book, be that a friends-to-lovers romance or a mistaken heir romance or a were-being meets Darth Vader space comedy. Voice includes our syntax, our slang, punctuation and even diction.
A writer's voice also covers the things we care about. I'm a soapbox-standing proponent of adoption and advocate for kids in foster care because of our experiences adopting bebe. I'm a die-hard Kansas City Royals fan, lover of Cadbury Caramel eggs who also has a slight addiction to tuna-on-wheat, peanut-butter-on-white and mustard-and-bologna sandwiches, and for a very long time I felt like I didn't fit in my own family. I was also a day-dreamer, I couldn't do math to save my life. I was afraid of the goats and cows in our fields, and although I love to ride, I could never remember how to cinch the freaking saddle correctly...mostly because when my family would demonstrate, I'd get lost thinking about my books again. So a big part of my voice, of the stories I tell, is finding home. Finding safety and security and coming to terms with who you are...and who you aren't. Once I figured out what my voice brought to the table, writing books became so much simpler...because I knew what I had to say.
Have you found your voice? What is it that your stories bring to the table? Oh! And feel free to add to the list of Best 80s Hottie, Best Spring Flower and Why Do You Write, too!