I’ve been thinking a lot about theme and premise and voice and … and… connectivity of my writing to whoever is there who might publish me.
Voice. I have one. Or so I have been told. But is my voice the “right voice?” Who knows. At times it is. At times it isn’t. But if there is one thing I’ve learned this year as a writer it is that I have a voice that is unchangeable despite my years of developing craft.
In a way, I wonder if that is good or not. But it is what it is. I have a passion for certain things and for life and for virtues. I have a weird duality in my voice. Why? Oh, I know why. I need to marry my natural inclination to cover pain with humor in real life with my writing. That’s HARD. Very hard. And I know some people who may think what? She has pain? How? She has it all. And that is also hard. For just as my heroines, I know exactly what they hide. If they were to reveal it all. The depth would be too much to convey.
But then I laugh. Ha. What the heck is my Vietnam? It’s nothing compared to the real heroes. The real heroines. Who the heck am I to complain? What is it that I have to gripe about? I couldn’t possibly have any real pain. But then ha. What does anyone know? Really? Not much unless they have been privy to the true, non-funny, oh-shit-this-sucks-side-of-life of me. (note: I have used hyphens and probably used them incorrectly. Don’t judge me). And then that is what permeates my characters. It is part of them. I can’t help it. It is what it is. Hence the duality of my writing. How can I make that duality connect? I don’t know. I will continue to try.
So I know my premise. Two lost souls find each other and discover home. Can’t change that. But what is really weird is the bizarre connectivity I find between all my manuscripts. I find boxes. Lots of boxes. My people are always in transition, moving, clearing out the past, making room for the present. I find secrets. I know. I have them. I don’t share them easily. Or willingly. There are few who know my secrets. And I have moved a lot. I have often said I have written two stories while sitting in a box.
I find hospitals. I find this odd. I do remember these odd times in my life. I fell. When I was four. Hit my head hard. Bled. Got stitches. The experience was overwhelmingly scary to me. I had doctors with masks, no parents, a tarp over my head. I was alone. I also remember surgery. On my knee. I remember the nurse waving the baggie with the needle they’d extracted from my knee in front of my face. Ha ha. So funny to her. But again. I was alone. I remember a miscarriage, the surgery. Again I was alone. I guess I see hospitals as metaphors of my own loneliness. They invade my writing.
I find betrayal. On all levels. I find deep seated anger. I find people who are supposed to love that go out of their way to hurt. But the people they hurt grow up to be funny, to laugh, to cover their sadness and angst with tough stuff. I also find quirky people. Misfits. People who don’t fit the norm. Wow, what a shock. I find people who yearn for connection, for love, for home.
I find my premise again and again.
Two lost souls find each other and discover home. That is the depth of me. But at the same time these people cover their loneliness and fear with humor and anger and hope and false bravado. If that is not going to “connect” with an agent or an editor — well I guess I am cooked. But at least I am honest.
Donald Maass said to be true to who you are as a writer. Then I will be true to my audience. I have mined the depths of my soul for my writing. I have opened up veins for my story. I have tried to show the complexity of being a funny, brash, fierce person with heart. I have no idea how she/he resonates with the reader.
I only know I am doing the best I can to honor the gift within me.