Writing Life: A Unique Writing Voice

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The Writer

The Writer

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!  :
Rosemary Roberts

Rosemary Roberts

  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.        Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About Raymond Alexander Kukkee

A published author and freelance writing professional, Raymond lives and writes in Northwestern Ontario.
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10 Responses to Writing Life: A Unique Writing Voice

  1. So great, woohoo, for many, many reasons! Firstly, because the interview between us led to a sharing of a lightbulb moment by Rosemary. Also, because you Ray are pursuing your unique voice and helping others. Your interview at Poetic Parfait inspired many writers, particularly that question about your advice to those new to the writing field. I am so glad you honed in on that part of the interview. Thank you for linking back to the original post at Parfait and for being true to your own style of written genius. By the way, my dad asked me why I didn’t get him an ice cream sandwich? Oh dear, now look what I’ve started!! PS I look forward to your interview with Rosemary too.

  2. Thank you, Christyb, and it certainly was my pleasure to link back to Poetic Parfait, and that interview, since it caused the whole thing, and Rosemary picked up on it.
    I always appreciate feedback that is appreciative–and especially when it shows a connect with my words, whatever they may have been…
    “:) Hm…thinking about it, your dad has the right idea, an ice cream sandwich is always an inspiration to go higher and farther “:) Thanks again, Christyb ! “:) ~R

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  5. now, that’s an encouraging statement of faith in writing! i swallowed each word as literary gospel, it is not advice, it is foundation work, the basic support demonstrated here is the coda of workshops for writers everywhere.
    Raymond, your generosity shone through your highlighting of Christy B, and Rosemary R.
    i can see this article traveling the insecure paths of fledgling writers who struggle to accept their own voice..i would not personally use the word ‘fight’ because my primary language is more selective in its directives..the only thing i can use this word is for defense. so my word of the day would be ‘preserve’–as in –ye writer of emerging style, preserve that personal inner voice which propels every sentence you serve your reader.
    huff, a mite’ pedantic! but y’all know what i mean, don’t you?

    • Wonderful comment, Nadine! And very, very accurate, as is your norm. Foundation work, I love it. A great foundation makes everything durable, stand up straight and proud as it should do. Perhaps ‘fight’ is the incorrect word; should it be ‘persist’ or ‘struggle’ or ‘endeavour’ (?) –to keep our writing voice? In some instances, with editors, for example, it may be a tooth and nail fight. Yes. Whatever it takes, however it is described, we MUST keep our own writing voices, as you have, my friend. Your comments have always been so generous and always encouraging too, it must be contagious…. thank you again! ~R

  6. I cannot express how much this post along with Ms. Roberts’ experience has touched me, but I can assure you, Raymond, that the touch was and still is profound! Very early during my writing journey (via internet – not my true beginnings), I really did become somewhat lost in the voices of those who influenced me, but I thought, “How can I possibly write in all voices at once and what, pray-tell is MINE? From that day on, I have embraced my voice – even when publishing becomes a mental battle, but today, my writing will not go up until I have had my say in my way. Thank you so much – I love every word! 🙂

    • hi Charlene, welcome to Incoming Bytes! I am delighted to hear you have been touched by Rosemary Robert’s experience and this post-and been reminded of the importance of using your own voice.
      It is impossible to imitate, incorporate, and write in all voices that have influenced you, so you have done the right thing. Use your own. Revel in your own writing voice, and express yourself as you need –to become whole. Thank you for your kind words and commenting– “:) ~R

  7. Jane Carroll says:

    I’ve been a fan of Christy’s for quite some time…and now I’m a fan of Rosemary’s, too. I find that my writing doesn’t fit into most of the molds created by others. I take personal-growth topics and create stories featuring spandex and high-heel wearing Bertha. They are filled with ahas and ha-has. I tried writing the traditional way and it just didn’t work for me or my readers.

    I just read a piece of advice today about finding your voice by Joel Boggess of the ReLaunch Show who said you have to surrender to who you are and surrender to who you aren’t.

    Great post…thank you!

    • hi Jane! Welcome to Incoming Bytes! It is interesting isn’t it, how a few words from Christyb and Rosemary can inspire so! When I read Rosemary’s words–the quotation above, it struck a chord with me to the point I HAD to write about it–because I have been practicing “do it MY way” for quite some time. I finally have confirmation that it IS the right thing to do….hahaha! It does seem that in the writing world, turning into, and actually writing with your own voice is a quantum step–a fascinating and very important step. Surrender? I’m guessong writers should never think in terms of surrendering….haha, never–in your case, be bold, and write in terms of “JANE” ! Thank you for the kind words and commenting! ~R

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