Each writer should aspire to find their own “Voice” as they write. This gives your writing a uniqueness that belongs to you. When you read noted authors, you often recognize their writings by the Voice you have become familiar with. Some favorites of ours are Stephen King, the poets Wordsworth and Yeats, Lord Byron, Auden, and acclaimed authors Woolf, Joyce, Atwood, and Stegner. We can pick up their works and immediately recognize their distinctive voices as we read. And so it should be as you write more and more, become more known. But it is not easy, nor should it be. We took every creative writing class we could, striving to find our voice. We took college classes, community offered classes–anything that could help us on our way to finding that voice that spoke our words, in our way. We were never more proud or more pleased than to have a learned professor tell us, “You have found your Voice. Now write.” Realizing the significance of one’s writing voice needs to be something you diligently maintain, and especially with an editor you submit writings to.
In our personal submissions to an editor, we were told at one point, “I made some changes, but since I have read so much of your writing, I felt confident I could step into your voice.” Not until the final publication, reading the hard copy, did I realize my voice had been lost and the writing was not mine. Yes, it covered what I wanted to convey, but it lacked my passion, MY VOICE, in its final press copy. I was disappointed, then angry, then embarrassed that it was being read by others who would not really know the substance of what was written in MY VOICE.
There are ways to avoid this and that do not need to be learned the hard way through such an experience as I had. We would suggest the following:
1. Do not merely skim through an email copy or computer copy of the editor’s revisions and changes. Ask/require a hard copy so that you can read it aloud to yourself and see if your voice has been maintained with integrity.
2. Remember that it is your work, your writing, and again, your voice, that you want to come through.
3. Do not allow revisions/editing that downplay or exaggerate your voice in any way.
4. Be diligent in your final reading to make sure it is your voice, and not your editor’s, that will be read by the public audience.
It takes writing and rewriting to find your own, personal voice–don’t sacrifice what you have worked for in order to get published. Ask yourself if you can be proud of the final work, or if you are simply giving in to an editor in order to get your work “out there.”
If you keep writing, keep submitting, keep having writings published, your voice will become recognizable by readers. They will look for more to read. If you are writing to make a living, this is what will push you forward and help you succeed. So, don’t learn the hard way! Always stay with YOUR VOICE. You can always find an editor who will work with you. You cannot always rewrite and re-publish a book, poem, or article once it is out.
Good writing to you!