©2015 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
Should you Fight to Develop and Keep YOUR Writing Voice Unique?
” If it doesn’t resonate from someplace deep inside of you, there’s no way to fake it and ultimately the writing will be bad.” Rosemary Roberts
The curious and eternal subject of ‘writing voice’ came up a short time ago when I was fortunate enough to be personally interviewed by Christy D Birmingham (Poetic Parfait, Talk time With Raymond Alexander Kukkee Feb 2015.) That’s for the record.
I have always believed that every writer should speak for themselves, be themselves, and fight to develop and keep their own writing voice. Keep it unique. If you’re just starting out, a writing newbie, don’t copy the style and voice of other writers, blah blah… develop your own, learn by reading, watching professionals, etc, Another ‘rule’. ( It has always seemed to me there are more rules than thoughts about writing properly if one is to become successful, some are questionable and arbitrary, but if you follow any rules, this is likely one of the better ones.)
In our discussion and interview, Christyb asked me for “advice for newbies”. As writers we instinctively know there’s nothing more entertaining than a clever interviewer asking
(a scribbler and doodler) a writer to offer advice to newbies, is there ? Everybody loves giving advice, it’s a sure-fire interview question, and we rose to the bait challenge. We’re always full of advice even if we don’t follow it ourselves at times. ( er… No smartassed comments required )
Not to be outdone, and in return for an extra ice cream sandwich, I offered some advice, this and that. Part of it, if I recall correctly, was that ‘it’s important to learn to accept criticism, and to not allow anyone to destroy your writing voice by suggestion, inference or disparaging remarks. That’s really important.” I ‘ll repeat that… Among other things, I told her ” I think it’s important to learn to accept criticism, and do not allow anyone to destroy your writing voice by suggestion, inference or disparaging remarks. That’s really important.” Uh, huh…haha I found it. And quoted it. Accurately. For the record.
Christyb smiled and wrote it down, and surprisingly, some of it, the part about ‘writing voice’ seemed to hit a chord with at least one of my loyal readers, one Rosemary Roberts, a California writer and published author. Rosemary commented kindly on my interview and had a lot to say about ‘writer’s voice’ —and imagine that, her words rang a bell. The following comments are her own words:
Raymond, this was a great interview. I love that you encourage people to find their own voice and not abandon it. Far too often new writers try to follow someone’s successful or recognized style …more so thinking, “Oh, they write correctly” and then find out it’s not only impossible, but an incredibly empty feat emotionally. If it doesn’t resonate from someplace deep inside of you, there’s no way to fake it and ultimately the writing will be bad.
I learned this with the first piece I ever had published — began after a long and devastating day in the ER I worked as a thank you to my co-workers for helping each other (and me) survive it. At some point it turned more so into an essay and the hospital wanted to print it in their newsletter instead of me just pinning it up in the ER. I got busy writing to put it on a floppy disc (remember those, lol ), and mind you, I never thought I could actually take my writing anywhere professionally because I lacked the formal education.
I had my best friend come that evening to proof read it for any errors (I was a nervous wreck) and she literally red-lined almost all of it. I was devastated. “This is too deep …nope, too sad …nope, don’t think the doc will want you to mention him.” She gutted every emotional aspect, every picture created of the atmosphere and actions, telling me …again, “Remember, I’ve got college English. I know these things and you simply don’t.” She finally left me to rewrite the piece minus anything actually ‘me’ found in it.
As tears just flooded my face onto the keyboard I finally said, ” F*** it. This is NOT how I write and anyone who doesn’t like how I write can just not read it. This isn’t me and is nothing close to what I had to say.” I rewrote the entire piece as it was and turned it in.
Several days later it was not only published at my large hospital, but regionally for 7 hospitals. It was read that day at the President’s monthly meeting that just happened to be at our hospital that month. Suddenly all the nurses I worked with had copies and thanked me profusely for capturing the emotion of that day. The ER doc showed me his briefcase, filled with about 2 doz copies and also thanked me for being the first to ever recognize how it feels to be the physician in such circumstances. He was very touched by the whole thing. And lastly, that day and for the next week, CEO’s of all the hospitals, not just mine, came to my ER, along with top nuns in Catholic Healthcare West and of course, many of the physician department heads that knew me, all to thank me and praise the piece.
Everyone had their favorite bits and of course, they were all the parts that my best friend — the college English grad — had told me to remove. Every CEO, physician and other admin heads, as well as all my co-workers asked me the same thing, “What are you doing here? You’re a writer!”
Then the head of Chaplin Services came by one day. She told me that her husband, now passed, was the head of the English Dept at Sacramento State University (same school my friend attended) and that in fact, the English Wing bears his name. Each year she, along with other board members, read submitted essays and choose 3 for the English Masters Degree program. She told me my essay rivaled any she had ever read for that program. It was on this day that I decided: 1) I AM a writer, and 2) nobody would ever dictate my style or voice again. Never.
Surprise! If you write at all, like Rosemary Roberts—you ARE a writer regardless of your experience, skill level, education, or the opinion of others. Yes, you may have to work harder for success, but you are a unique individual who deserves a unique writing voice, one worth fighting for —like Rosemary’s.
Dear readers, Wow!! See what happens? A defining moment that changed a writer’s life forever. If Rosemary’s story doesn’t convince you that YOUR writing voice may be worth developing and fighting for, nothing will. Thank you, Rosemary!
Is that Incoming I hear?
About Rosemary Roberts:
*An in-depth Interview, coming soon! :
A freelance writer first published in 1993, the self-proclaimed “Queen of all things slightly sassy” Rosemary Roberts, thrives from the northern California foothills, is a published book author and the founder of Girl On Point, Inc., a creative services firm specializing in custom content for educational, advertising/marketing and public relations efforts.