I lost it, but I'm getting it back. My voice. No, not the voice you hear when I speak, but my writer's voice. That esoteric something that all the people who discuss it in The Making of a Bestseller say is vitally important, the core...the thing that makes one author worth reading and another one not.
I honestly had no idea what they were talking about before I began my current writing exercise. Sure, I knew I had a voice voice, but a writing voice? I didn't really even know what that means. I've read plenty of different writers, myself, but I'm sure that one of the classes I didn't take on creative writing is where the student reads various authors and identifies their voice...the particular patterns of speech that make that author recognizable.
Nope, missed that lesson.
That said, I do know that I have a particular manner of speaking to a group. In one of my plebe semesters at West Point, I had a few roommates who loved to tease me about Mississippi, the state of my birth, and California, the state from which I'd entered the academy. I'd get all blustery about the insults, and it would invariably lead to a wrestling match...well, OK, more of a dog pile with me on the bottom. As I'm not completely stupid, it only took a couple of those times before I learned to disarm the teasing by laughing at it. I even learned to make jokes about the states myself. Doesn't mean I don't love Mississippi or California, either one, but I'd learned an important lesson...the ability to laugh at myself and at the rest of my crazy life.
I honed that skill later on. The Infantry didn't teach me to laugh; it taught me in a less graceful way not to take my life too seriously. After all, once you've stared down the wrong end of a tank barrel owned by the opposing team, no matter whether that tank barrel was shooting real sabot rounds or just laser beams, nothing else seems quite as serious.
Later on I became a teacher. I started out nice, and kind of serious, as I discussed the intricacies of DOS, and of Windows, and of networking. Then I noticed that when I tossed in a snide comment or a joke of some sort, students would chuckle. And then I noticed that, when students chuckled, they paid more attention. Wow! I honed the art, then, of tossing in humor. Even database normalization...a boring-as-crap topic no matter who you are...got a lot easier to describe when a touch of humor was added in a careful way.
So...fast forward to the "for serious" business of writing a novel. I wrote Part I, really, for the purpose of telling a very serious story. It's a love story, with an epic battle brewing throughout and culminating at the end. Along the way, there was a bar scene. The bar scene, though, I didn't really write; it kind of wrote itself. That's because...well, it's funny. It kind of bubbled up out of my subconscious as something that would really be fun to add to the story, and my fingers did what my subconscious told them to.
Interestingly, that one scene has had more positive comments than all the rest combined. Now I just need to go back and see about revising the rest of the work to be more that voice...my voice...the snide, wise-cracking Stephen King The Other...instead of the William Faulkner Wannabe.
My voice. I found it.
Word count: 13,018
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