After almost six years of meeting, the voices of my fellow Thursday Night Writers have become pretty familiar to me and easy to spot. The vocabulary and cadence are like fingerprints that don’t seem to change. However, it wasn’t until recently that I seriously considered what my own voice was.
About a month ago, we did a couple of writing exercises one night. In one scenario, the instruction was to think of something we either liked or disliked, and then write a story as if we had the opposite feeling. For the second exercise, the point was to think of a dozen details that could be used as description and then write two or three paragraphs using those details. It was fun and I had no problem writing two short pieces. Then we each read our work aloud and it was pointed out to me, and I immediately saw, that I had used exactly the same voice in response to two totally different scenarios.
My voice in both pieces was cynical, which actually seems normal to me because I am not a Pollyanna and believe that there are a lot of negative and malignant things in our world. But, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that, if I’m cynical about the world then it is only fair that I should be cynical about myself, or at least about my writing. I’m undertaking this appraisal of my writing with the idea that maybe I can somehow rub salve on my dark worldview and alleviate some of the aches and pains it gives to both me and my readers.
I hope this self-examination bears fruit. When we did those exercises and then discussed them, it was an eye opener to realize that what had been so comfortable only minutes before suddenly felt foreign. There it was, right in front of my face, challenging me to consider whether I like what I see and feel when I write. Wish me luck.