It has taken me years to find my writing voice, or, rather, to assimilate the myriad voices in my head into a mélange that fits the literary version of myself. I prefer to write in the first-person Point of View, as it’s easier to hear my characters if I allow them to take the pen instead of my poor attempts to interpret their actions and words. I do write in third person, mainly when my hero prefers silence to voice or when the action dictates an independent perspective, but you can tell the ones I love, those my heart has given birth to and whom, in turn, give me life. They speak for themselves and I can but listen.
For the work side, that part of me under the charge of my inner editor, I’ve learned that my voice sounds hollow and nondescript if it isn’t poetic. I don’t mean specifically lyrical, as my Shakespearean aspirations are as likely to come out a wilted-flowered-version of Tupac or Don L. Lee as the Great Bard, but rather I mean that it should whisper on the page as it does over the tinnitus-dampened version in my brain. If the prose cannot be a poem, then why write it? If you cannot sing the book, perhaps it is not a song worth singing.
And so, periodically, I sample portions of the completed works and sing them, in my head, to see if the music is there. This is not how I write. It isn’t my lyrical voice. It is, instead how I think, who I am, how the words originate in my head before I translate them into the gruff patterns of my non-alliterative speech or the stand-up comedy routine that comprises much of my own dialog. The reason I do not speak aloud this way, as I am writing now, is that I am convinced that no one would understand a damned thing I say if I did. I don’t expect them to understand my stories either, in truth, but somehow, miraculously, they do.
Here is a short sample from Jeanne Dark, from a scene selected mostly at random. It feels like a poem, and so, I let it live as one. I pulled out 4 words needed for prosaic grammar that cause poetry to stumble (the ‘hads’ and ‘thereupons’ of the world) but otherwise, it is intact.
We Should Come Back
“We should come back.” He paused awhile
and I thought he had fallen asleep.
“Maybe we should just stay,” he said.
I looked at him to see if he was teasing,
but found no hint of a smile.
We lay there, eyes closed,
listening to the percussive clanging of raindrops that
found twin holes in the roof and were beating
against two steel pots in a tempo
slowed to languid, larghissimo time.
I smiled, remembering
how their allegro rhythms
beat in concert with our impassioned lovemaking
during the prior night’s storms.
I thought, perhaps,
the universe had orgasmed as well and
was smiling at us via the sunrise.
Oddly, it was that the roof leaked—
that little imperfection
in the French Provincial décor
of the boudoir—
that made it perfect.
I opened my eyes
and began to wonder why
I’d always hated the room