Sunday, May 9, 2010

Using Your Voice

Happy Mother's Day!!!

So far, mine has been relaxing and yummy.

In terms of the writing, I went to my first workshop yesterday.  It was a one day class on personal essay writing.  I got some good tidbits and met some interesting people but I need to find something that is more tailored to what I need help on, structuring a book, finding my voice, working on style etc.  I am looking at taking a year long workshop that is being offered by a writer in my neighborhood that meets every monday night.  It might be perfect but I'm a little hesitant because of the long commitment and the price.

As a friend recently said, the most important part of writing a memoir is finding (or revealing) your voice.  That's been tough for me.  You would think after over a year of writing on this blog I would have found my voice but every time I sit to write about my life in "memoir" form, I start to write in a way that I think books should be written as opposed to just talking in my own voice, with my own quirks and faults, which is what I need to make my voice authentic.

Though out my life, my best friends always told me that I should write a book because I would tell funny stories all the time about growing up in a crazy family.  When I told them that I was writing a memoir they were thrilled.  One said, "what will be different about your memoir is that the stories will have your quirky and crazy sense of humor."  I told her that I just didn't know how to write funny.  Everything I write tends to sound like a sociological analysis of the need to belong and be loved.  It's so preachy and sappy.  Why can't I make it funny and light and say the same things about my life?  Is it funny to be a kid that leaves her country at 8 and never feels quite right again until she meets a man that loves her so completely that he gives her a sense of belonging she's been searching for since childhood?  How can I make that funny?  I'm sure there's a way.

I'll will try and figure it out. I will either succeed, which will be totally awesome, or fail, which will suck but will give me more material for the stories I tell people at parties!

Today I'll be thinking about how to bring out my own voice in print.

Any suggestions welcome!  :)


  1. I am an editor who often works with people who are creating memoirs. Your concern with voice is a common one. We have had several of our clients record their stories on a digital recorder then turn the recordings into text. People are much more relaxed and natural when speaking which allows them to be both funnier and more ironic. People often find their writing voice as well as their literal one while they record. You might want to give it a try.

  2. maybe you have to get all the sociological analysis and all of that out of the way -- just get it down on paper and out of your system -- before you find what you feel is your true voice?

    the best thing i do for my creative side is morning pages -- writing three pages long hand first thing in the morning -- i don't do it all the time, but when i do it effects my whole day in every way

  3. I was about to suggest you speak into a recording device, and then read Biff's comment! You might give it a whirl...

    And I love slow panic's idea too. I would love to get that discipline into my daily life...

    Good luck, sounds like you're on your way; getting it out of you and on to "paper" is the first step, and then there's the whole rewriting... I'm sure you've heard that saying "there is no writing, only rewriting." Some days as I edit what I've written, that seems SO true.

  4. Thanks for the great suggestions. I love the idea of morning pages. I need to try that.

    I bought a digital recorder for that exact reason. I helps but I feel like I'm cheating a little bit.