Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blog Chain: Someone peed in my Wheaties

Okay. Sorry. That's the grossest blog post title ever. It'll never happen again.

It's Sarah's turn to speak up on the blog chain.

She asks: How did you discover your particular voice as a writer?

My high school English teacher, Mr. Bivens, started out the year by telling the class that he didn't give A's. Well, not that he never gave A's. He rarely gave A's. (He rarely smiled either, but that's beside the point.)

Several months into the semester, he assigned an autobiography to the class. While my classmates groaned, I began working on it right away. (Nerd writer til death, yep that's me.) I didn't think it was anything special until Bivens handed it back to me with an A+ at the top and a note that said: "Good job, Kath, Loved your voice."

I went, "Huh? What does that mean?"

Of course, I was a teenager; I didn't care enough to ask him. But I wish I would have. For years, I've said I want to be a published novelist. It would have been helpful to know what a voice was so I could start honing it.

Several years (actually about 15) passed before I finally realized what a writer's voice was and that I had one that might be worth honing. Some random person e-mailed and told me they liked my voice after they read my entry in a contest where writers were given a prompt and asked to write no more than 150 words.

"I don't know why they call this place Mount Hope. The nearest mountains from these Kansas plains are 489.16 miles away, and hope, well, it left with Joey before I could tell him how I felt. Stupid parents – his for taking him so far away, mine for telling me I’m too young to know what real love is. 'You’ll see each other again if it’s meant to be' doesn’t give much comfort when I’m stuck in this podunk town with no one who understands me the way Joey did. I hope his parents don’t mind a permanent guest."

(I see this entry now and I want to cringe because there are so many things I'd fix. Grrr...) After that, I spent several days mulling over what "writer's voice" meant, and I started to understand my own.

And I think this entry says a lot about my voice. It's a voice that's angry. That's been wronged by the world. That's tinted with sarcasm. And yet, it also conveys a belief that a sense of humor always must be maintained.

Or else.

How's your voice?

See what Eric had to say about his voice yesterday. And don't forget to visit Christine's blog tomorrow to read how she sounds. Er...uh. You know what I mean.


Sandra said...

Love the song choice!

I think attitude plays a big part in determining voice, and your example demonstrates that. Good job!

Elana Johnson said...

Yes, I love your voice too! I do think we all have one, as evident in our blogs. I think that's where our true writer's voice comes out. Hey! Maybe I should start a blog where my MC blogs...just to train her voice.

Anonymous said...

Okay, yeah, gross title. LOL. Caught my attention, though, right? **smile*8

My voice. . . yikes. . . I'm not even sure I have a voice yet.

Oh, and yeah, LOVE the Til Tuesday video. She's creepy looking a little, though, huh?

I agree with Sandra about the attitude thing. Right on.

I let my characters come on my blog every once in a while and host a week. It's a ton of fun, actually. Helps me find their voice a litle more too. :-)

Eric said...

Great post. I'm still trying to figure out how the title works into things,, oh well. I really like your writer's voice Kat. A bit of sarcasm and humor can go along way for those of us who appreciate it. Nice job.

Kat Harris said...

Sandra -- And everyone always told me I needed an attitude adjustment. :-)

Elana -- Thanks! Courtney Walsh, one of the other writers whose blog I follow, asked the other day what draws people to and spurs them to comment on a blog. Voice was the first thing I thought about. I think writer Dave Berry is a perfect example. The topics of his columns were rarely ever earth-shattering, but how he said it really resonated. I love coming to your blog because your voice is so fun. (Well, that and you have awesome topics.)

Lynn -- Aimee Mann (Til Tuesday's singer) was one of my idols back in the 80s. Loved the rat tail. Now I look back and think, well, I think a lot of what I thought about yesterday's video. What were we thinking in the 80s? :-)

Eric- The title is a saying my husband often says to me when I'm angry at the world and acting that way.

Cole Gibsen said...

I agree! The gross title totally worked and caught my attention :) I actually really enjoyed your writing prompt. good job! I'd read more.

B.J. Anderson said...

Wonderful voice! And great post. Pretty awesome title, too. ;)

Christine Fonseca said...

Great post...mine is so diff than you guys...Oh well...