Recently during a round of golf, my shot off the tee made an errant hook out of bounds. As I walked to the fence where my ball had landed, a Bichon Frise ripped through its doggy door and raced toward me. He reached the fence, looked at me and began to bark. At least, he was trying to bark. His mouth was moving but there was no sound.
“He doesn’t have a voice.” My playing partner yelled from across the fairway.
As I watched the little guy’s desperate attempt to protect his master’s property, I was reminded of the first contest I entered several years ago. I received an acknowledgment of my entry in the mail and the recipient had written, “You have a very unique writing voice.” At the time, I had no idea what that meant. What did my voice have to do with my writing? Was “unique” a bad thing in the writing world?
I never knew why the dog had no voice, but three years later, I’ve learned there’s no magic blueprint to create my writing voice. I already have one, just like I already have a speaking voice. Sure, I could imitate voices of famous authors, but it wouldn’t be mine. I am who I am and I write the way I write.
In order to learn from other writers, I subscribe to many blogs. I can read a post without looking at the name of the blog and know who wrote it. They each have their own style, they’re not a bunch of parrots imitating other blogs. They’re all unique and that’s what makes them fun to follow and read the comments.
I still think about that voiceless dog and how hard he tried to speak. Like him, I have so much to say, but I struggle with how to say it. Rather than copying a voice, I want to be original, different from other writers. In order to do this, I need to keep writing and in doing so, my writing will evolve and my voice will emerge. If only finding my golf balls were that easy.