So, writing. With all the activity of the move and the book sale (!!!) and settling into a radically different and much improved lifestyle, I haven’t been writing much. That makes me nervous. I’ve never spent so much time away from the page as I have in these past few weeks, and though I’ve tried to break back into my work, it’s been difficult. Part of that is due to some of the rejections I’ve received along the way.
I don’t know about you, but I can take any amount of criticism about the story, or a reader’s failure to connect with the characters. Problems with structure, lack of depth, word count. Whatever. But criticism about voice is hard to hear, because it’s the one element of writing that feels unfixable. A writer’s entire sensibility is wrapped up in the way he chooses what to look at and how he describes it, how he experiences the rhythm in language, structures his sentences and paragraphs, how he strings a thought together. Voice is the essence of the writer, the truest representation of the mind behind the work. Dismissal of a writer’s voice is painful. The rejection feels personal.
Lately when I sit down to write, and in spite of the enthusiasm and positive energy that come with a brand-new book deal, I feel self-conscious. I hear myself writing and I’m annoyed.
The solution is to say fuck it, to sit down and write and keep writing and get over it, which is what I intend to do. But I like to work with the criticism I receive, and I’m not sure what to do with this. While every project has a narrative style of its own, the writer’s voice is the thread running through them. How is it possible to change what feels so innate? Do writers reach a point when their voices become fixed, or does voice continue to evolve over the years?
What do you think?