Last night was my RWA meeting. We had the great privilege of having fellow long-distance chapter member and SuperRomance author, Terry McLaughlin, join us from California for the evening. I can’t say enough good things about Terry. She’s one of those people you just love to be around – fun, witty, hilarious. When she talks to you she makes you feel like you’re the only one in the room and that what you have to say is important (I love people like that!). She’s involved in everything – national board for RWA, speaks at conferences and chapter meetings, was a local officer for years and a (very recent) past Golden Network president. Not to mention her stellar publishing record since selling only a few years ago. The girl is BUSY. But she still LOVES to talk writing as much as some of us newer to the business do – obviously, or she wouldn’t have made the long trek up to the rainy Willamette Valley to join us.
The pic above was taken after the meeting last night. From the left it’s me, Barb Cool Lee (also VP for the Golden Network), Genene Valleau (whose recent debut, Songs of The Heart, came out this month), and Terry. Terry’s topic last night was voice – and specifically, what makes yours unique. And while she didn’t talk a whole lot about craft, the one thing I came away with was that your voice is yours alone and worth fighting for. You can’t change it to make others happy or in order to sell. Because your voice is who you are as a writer. You can change style, genre, characters all you want, but your voice is the one thing that remains consistent through all of that.
I LOVED hearing what Terry had to say, and for me it was perfect timing. I just finished my para RS and have started revisions, and one thing I’ve noticed is that the first half of the book – which I wrote before Christmas – has a very stilted form of my voice. I was trying too hard – trying to fit with what I “thought” a paranormal romance voice should be. The second half of the book – which I wrote all in the last month – is written in my voice. My fun, a bit snarky, lighter voice. It’s me. And that’s why writing the second half of the book was so much easier – and faster.
I’ve heard a lot of writers say they “knew” when they wrote the book that was eventually going to be their first sale. They just felt it. I used to think that meant they knew they’d found a cool plot or characters or something intangible I hadn’t found yet. But that wasn’t it at all. They’d discovered their voice. The them that shines through their characters and writing and makes their story unique and different. I felt that way when I was writing Stolen Fury. The writing, words, characters, story came easier because I let my real voice come through and didn’t try to revise it to be something it wasn’t. And I found that voice again when I wrote the second half of my para RS.
So, Terry, if you’re reading this, I just want to say thanks. You gave me a light-bulb moment last night. One that – hopefully – will make my revisions (at least on the first half of my book) a little easier.
How about the rest of you? Have you found your voice? Are you still looking? Do you struggle to stay true to it (like I obviously do)?