As I write today’s entry, I’m having trouble with my voice. You see, something in the air is irritating my throat and I’ve been coughing for the past four nights. My poor husband seems to be sleeping straight through my noise. Thank God for that, but I wake up feeling like I need eight more hours of sleep! Well, today I sound like Lauren Bacall, an actress who was known for her sexy voice back in the day. I just don’t sound like myself. I am reminded that when you write, you need to sound like yourself also. Now you might ask, “Who else could I sound like?” You’d be surprised.
I remember a comment one of my first readers gave me after I did my first draft of The Price of Pearls. She was brutally honest. Her comments did not feel good to me, but I needed to hear the truth. She basically said that while my writing was very skillful, she couldn’t connect to me emotionally. She went on to say she needed to hear my voice, the Patricia she knew and loved. She needed me to forget about sounding professional and just talk like a woman sitting down with a friend. She wanted to pull up her chair to my kitchen table and have a cup of coffee with me. I have to admit my feelings were hurt, but I understood exactly what she meant. I went back over the entire manuscript and read everything I had written. I had a lot of work to do. I swallowed my pride and re-wrote a large portion of my story. When I was finished a couple of months later, I e-mailed the revised story to her. After a couple of days, she greeted me at church with a broad smile and an encouraging comment: “Now that’s what I was talking about! I hear your heart now! I absolutely love the story! It’s raw and real!”
I encourage you to begin telling your story as if you’re sitting down at your kitchen table, giving your listener your undivided attention. Speak honestly and intimately with your audience every time you write. Let your reader hear your heart. You don’t need to impress anyone. Your reader will get more out of a real conversation than a formal speech in an auditorium. The reader wants to hear you, wants to walk with you, hear your hopes and your fears. The reader wants to laugh and cry with you. Welcome him or her into your private world. That’s where true intimacy takes place. By the time you finish the first chapter, you will be surprised that you will have discovered a voice which is uniquely yours.
Begin praying and looking for a first reader, someone who will encourage you and tell you the truth. Don’t look for an English teacher or professional writer. You just need somebody who will tell you if you sound like yourself. Perhaps you know somebody who likes to read and is willing to give you some honest feedback without ripping you to shreds.
You’re on your way! Your dream is becoming a reality! Stick with it! Commit to taking as much time as you need to accomplish the goal of writing your story. For some people, that may be six months. For others, that may be a year. Still others may take longer. My book took longer than I anticipated. I stopped and started many times over a six-year period. You have to make time to write. It’s hardly ever convenient! Writing a book is like taking a walk, not running the Boston Marathon!” Many start the task; not everyone finishes.” A co-worker said those words to me when I told her I was writing a book. I was determined to finish after hearing those words. I believe you will finish. Let me know where you are in your writing journey. Send me a brief note. I’d love to hear from you!