The problem with a writer who has little self confidence in her writing joining a critique group and reading dozens of books on how to write is that she/I stopped listening to myself, my guts, my heart, my (yeah, I’m going to say it) muse.
My passion for writing was soon smothered by a steady stream of rules. All the do’s and don’t. The should’s and shouldn’ts. The lists of clichés. The “only amateurs do that”. The how to outline your novel in five-hundred-billion steps.
It was all good information. I learned a lot.
But somewhere along the way I lost my voice. I forgot why I loved to write and writing became a chore, something that I wanted to do but knew I wasn’t good enough, knowledgeable enough, educated enough, smart enough to do it well.
Oh, how the doubts skulked in, stealing my drive, my love, my reason for writing in the first place. I was told I used too much alliteration (and any was too much), that my prose was too poetic, too abstract, too…weird.
I needed to learn how to write popular fiction. I needed to write like everyone else.
Don’t ask me how much time I wasted on that nonsense. I’m admitting to no such thing. Let’s just say I finally, FINALLY realized that I should be learning how to make my author voice better not learning how to mimic someone else.
To comfort myself over how long it took me to understand, I tell myself that it’s an important lesson that I had to learn at my pace, in my time.
I’m still developing my author voice, learning how to balance my heart and my head like fraternal twins learning the strength in their similarities and differences. Some days are easier than others.
Some times my head wants to rule as if this is a dictatorship instead a collaboration. I’m so concerned about the outline and the structure of the scene, getting in all the senses, maintaining pace, creating the right feeling that I smother my creative side and have to fight for every single word I type onto the page.
Other days my heart beats double time as if I’m running a marathon and each word is a step toward an unknown goal. My breath comes in pants. I can barely see straight as my fingers race over the keyboard and strange and wonderful prose fills the screen.
In both cases, I fail to communicate. With my head, my writing is dry and uninteresting. No readership there. And with my heart, my writing is confusing and abstract, kind of like reading the bible while drunk. Entertaining? Yes. Comprehensible? Not really.
What I strive for in writing as well as life is balance. The ability to follow my heart while using my head. The courage to use my voice while making sure readers understand what I am saying.
Jocelyn Modo may be crazy but writing keeps her from going insane. She grew up reading science fiction and fantasy and fell in love with romance when her girlie hormones kicked in. Nothing makes her day like working on her current manuscript…and nothing makes her crazy like working on her current manuscript. But all’s fair in love and war, and Jocelyn likes to put a whole lot of both in everything she writes.