Since starting my blog in April 2019, I finally had my own go-to public platform to publish my own writings my own way.
Initially the feeling of control was great, and I loved the feeling of getting my say out into cyberspace and to whoever cared to read. Along the way, I was surprised and pleasantly blessed too with additional and unexpected “perks”. These came my way when, more than once, I could air my thoughts on various issues for others to publish.
These were other blogs or platforms I submit essays to. They have helped me build professional writing relationships and honed my craft further too. And as one who sees himself (some three years now) still a fledgling writer, still wet behind a set of novice ears, I’m always grateful for such opportunities.
The privilege to publish and to learn
So it’s been great and I definitely can’t complain. I get my thoughts out to a wider audience, and hopefully to more who might appreciate what I have to say and how I say it.
I’m also glad to learn from experienced writers and editors how to boil down my gnarly first drafts (including titles and ledes) into something neater and more impactful. They remind me that less is always more; the fewer the number of words I use without losing the meaning of a sentence entirely, the better.
Of course a lot also depends on the message and overall tone I may wish to leave with my readers.
If reflective, (like from one writer to another), then the words could sound conversational and may even have a lingering quality about them; for maybe a later, more opportune time to process.
If dictatorial (say from a parent to a child) then short and sharp sentences might be de rigueur.
In short (no pun intended) words, if chosen well, can speak to a moment. And potentially be an influential catalyst for change that matters. Or at the very least, be a way for someone to pause and reflect; even if that someone is the wordsmith himself.
Whatever the case, it’s all good. And it’s even better when the writer stays true to his own ‘writing voice’.
The writing voice
Simply put, the writing voice is what makes your writing, well, yours.
Like Picasso with his paints and palettes that produce his signature masterpieces. Or the violin virtuoso Paganini when he performs his repertoire of pizzicato styles to appreciative crowds in Paris or Vienna. Or the incomparable Plath as she bangs out yet another powerful, almost elemental, poem only she can pen.
Each renown creative artiste in every conceivable genre of art form becomes famous because each time their audiences return to them, they expect a certain image, sound or writing that can come only from these brilliant artistes’ distinct “voices”.
And rarely are their audiences disappointed.
Writing is like that too, as the legions of fans of every famous writer will attest. As an easy illustration, followers of say, Stephen King, are unlikely to read, say Shakespeare, expecting the same experience right?
So what then do readers of my writings and my blog posts expect when they pay my writing a visit?
So what’s my “voice”?
I like to believe my readers come because they aren’t really looking for answers (although that’s not to say they won’t find any at all in my writing).
Instead, they are looking for an authentic respite from all the hullabaloo that passes for sage advice these days. The most cursory of glances today at social media or what-not will tell you this world is obsessed with churning out quick fixes and life-hack answers in rapid-fire mode 24/7!
Well, I offer none of those here, and it’s not why I created this blog.
Rather, I offer here a voice that’s often broken-up and on many occasions, even downright broken-down! Cos real living is raw and unpolished, and we shouldn’t sugar-coat it just to humble-brag or curate more “likes” and eyeballs.
It’s that idea — keeping my words raw and authentic — that keeps me writing on week after week. Even when there are times I don’t even know what to write. Or how a piece I initially wrote one way will turn out quite differently after I’m done.
Or when I feel there’s just so much to say it’s like water gushing out of a garden hose! When such a moment comes, it can flood my entire piece to a point where it’s hard for any reader (including myself) to stop the avalanche of feelings that accompany them.
Reminding myself of the above helps keep me on the straight and narrow as I press on with my writing. And my “writing voice”.
That, and the occasional but constant support from friends who are genuinely invested in my well-being as a writer. Friends who respond to my posts with much love and uplifting words.
Keep on keeping on and staying true to your voice!
Which is what a dear friend and mentor of mine recently did as he described my writing.
Let’s call him B.
B’s been an ardent follower of my blog for a long time and every so often he would leave comments and words of encouragement to spur me on, for which I’ve always been grateful.
But occasionally though, when he senses my doubts about my writing’s utility to reach people meaningfully, B would call me out, and bolster me afresh with his ever-ready words of encouragement. As any writer struggling alone to string disparate thoughts and sentences together will tell you, words of encouragement are like manna from heaven!
Which was what B did earlier this week when he read my latest poem and thought that I needed some manna. Manna which he generously offered my way with the following lines:
“Take cheer, my friend. You are writing profound, critically important matters. Many are being helped and stimulated by your postings.”
“You are writing powerfully. And part of your impact is your willingness to share pain and struggle and confusion and failures and questions. In short, you are being authentic!! Please keep that up!”
On days when I doubt my voice and lose heart, I shall recall this post and your words.
And I will hold this space and press on to write using my own raw and authentic voice.