Have you fought the feeling that your authorial voice keeps eluding you?
Me, too. For years, my deepest frustration has been trying to find my voice as a writer. I needed to know so I could figure out which genre best fit my stories and style; that is, I wanted to determine where to place myself in the large writing and publishing milieu before I spent a year writing the wrong novel, which . . . I did.
I tried using different pseudos. I tried writing historical mystery, romantic and contemporary suspense, creative nonfiction, and . . . you get the idea. I fought with my characters, who would start out as mean, hard-nosed antagonists and end up being edgy protags. Ah! It was a daunting struggle.
Finally, I realized that the conflict could be resolved if I accepted who I am, where my stories are coming from, that deep, repressed core. Yep, it sound easy for those of you who've done that, or had no problem doing that, but for the rest of us . . . Argh!
I've come to think that voice can described based primarily on two things:
1. What's inside, what you feel you must express; simply stated, your voice is based on who you are. It can't be contrived and, if it is, it's easily recognized by readers as such. I don't imagine Picasso would have painted water the same way as Monet.
2. The literary tropes and schema you select to make the desired expression, which also must not be contrived, are telling. Picasso and Monet used techniques, just differing ones.
So I won't be writing the next great noir novel: It's not a genre in which I can find expression, although I read and enjoy it. On the other hand, I've stopped denying (for fear of critical reprisal) the gritty, sometimes . . . yes . . . nasty irreverent heathens that my characters tend to be. They are SOB's, and I LIKE them. I've also stopped worrying about whether my story is didactic; it is. All stories are, in one way or another. Mine is just a little more heavy handed because, yes, damn it, I do have a message I wish to express.
The tropes? Oh, you better believe I know my writing tropes, and I pick and choose the ones that best elucidate my message and help me find expression. It's been an exercise in self discipline, but I've turned the critical eye I use to evaluate others' work on my own (www.buzzardbone.blogspot.com). It has helped considerably. Why not? I have the skills, I know the tools of my craft. I've just not consciously made myself use them.
So my question is, What about you? Do you . . . have you struggled to find your voice? How did you cope with the frustration? What have your successes been? What . . . are your favorite tropes, and do you use them consciously?
Is Booksmart user friendly, Caroline? Curious.
I get it that you're an artist first, writer after that. I wish I could even draw stick figures! But I cannot, so I'm gonna stick with writing, which is my passion. I just love your illustrations on your book covers, which is why I asked. Maybe they're "unclassifiable," as you say because, well, darn it, kids aren't as well read as they used to be. I know one thing: I'd want my kid to read them.
Is Booksmart user friendly,
Yes, I find it to be so. I sort of learned by doing, but it comes with online tutorials. You just drag in images from iPhoto or anywhere else on your computer where you store them, type in your own text, chose page ornaments, etc. Blurb continues to make improvements, so it gets easier all the time. A lot of photographers use it---it was designed primarily with photographers in mind, but other artists use it as well. It costs nothing to use, unlike Lulu---you only pay when you upload and order your book.
I set up my books so you could preview several illustrations in each one, not just the covers. So you can see how text and image work together. They do have a "trade" format too. But I don't think ir would really be cost-effective for something like a novel.