Thursday, June 16, 2011
The mystery of voice
For one of my classes last semester, a class in British Literature (modernism), the professor let me do a creative writing paper rather than a research paper. After he read my draft, he said, "Wow. The first three pages are very poetic. You really got into the landscape of the area where you grew up. But then, it's like you feel off a cliff. It's not in the same voice at all." I knew exactly what he meant. I almost never have "flow" when I'm writing, but those three pages jumped from my brain to the page almost effortlessly, with joy and purpose, with writerly thoughts, with a sense I knew what I was doing. But then, I didn't know how to go on. I had a setting and a main character, but although I wrote about 27 more pages around the setting and character to turn in for my professor, working on and off for a period of weeks, I never found that voice again. I hope very much that I can, in some quiet moments in natural settings this summer, reread the three pages, meditate, and reconnect that cord to the source of the voice. I don't know if it will be possible, but with every fiber of my being, I want to make it work. I only hope wanting it that much won't get it the way.