Guest Blogger E.M. Wynter: Free of Voice

Guest Blogger E.M. Wynter: Free of Voice

 

When I asked E.M. Wynter to return as a guest blogger, I certainly hoped that she would say “yes,” and thankfully, she did. The last time she appeared here on my website, she wrote about the delicate and difficult art of finding one’s voice as a writer. It can be especially tough if you are a ravenous reader and are trying to separate influence and reverence for another’s style from inadvertent mimicry within your own writing. Over two years has passed since E.M. visited, and during that time, she has embarked on several of her own literary pieces, in memoir and fiction, with first-time publishing on the horizon for an upcoming middle grade title. For Summer Blog TakeoverI asked her if she might revisit the subject of voice as a writer and she agreed.

 

So it is with great pleasure that I invite back to my website, Ms. E.M. Wynter.  And don’t forget to scroll after her blog to learn more about her and see where you can connect with this talented lady! ~ Chris

 

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Free of Voice by E.M. Wynter 

 

For a long time I felt a prisoner to my voice. It wasn’t expansive, poetic or descriptive enough. Too journalistic. Too clipped. Too informal.

 

And I didn’t publish anything because I thought readers wouldn’t enjoy me, or worse, they would laugh.

 

But then I picked up 50 Shades of Grey and, the success of it alone, proved my voice isn’t nearly as important as I thought it was.

 

E.L. James’ bestseller satisfied Twilight readers in a way Stephanie Meyer never could: with the X-rated story of Bella and Edward reimagined with Anastasia and Christian.

 

And I’m convinced now, more than ever, that it’s original ideas like that, that hit a nerve, present material anew, that take priority – not voice.

 

But, if that’s so, why does the primacy of voice come up again and again?

 

Because it’s an industry barrier.

 

At conferences, you’ll hear agents and publishers wax poetic on their desire to find an original voice; someone who stands out. This is the MFA-mindset talking; the culture that is obsessed with producing credible, artistic work, that, I believe, makes them feel better about what we’re all (ultimately) paid to do: entertain.

 

Every time I look at the sales figures of James’ work, I’m reminded that my voice – though valuable – plays only a functional role. It’s the originality of my ideas I should be most worried about. Am I pushing hard to make them better? How can I twist them around in a new way? Has this been done before and, if so, how can I make it smarter or unique?

 

Hard stuff to do. Maybe the hardest.

 

And what if your voice isn’t controllable anyway? In my experience, the more I write, the more of me comes through in the style of the work. Sure, we don’t ever want to waste a reader’s time with poorly constructed sentences that don’t vividly show character and action, but why is it in our interest to obsess over the way things sound on the page, if they don’t make the story any better?

 

Because the industry keeps telling us that voice is critical, when it’s not. Again, it’s just a barrier.  If you don’t talk the talk, the power people won’t talk to you.  But yet they’ll scramble over one another to publish Ms. James’ work, even if they have to hold their noses. That’s because this business comes down to sales and the public ultimately determines what’s valuable and what isn’t.

 

This is why I’m not worrying about my voice anymore. Oh sure, I’ll obsess over my words for clarity and brevity (my own taste) with the intent of letting the story shine through but, other than that, it is what it is.

 

Am I Hemingway? Steinbeck? Capote?

 

Why would I want to be them? I’m not male, I don’t write literature and we’re not in 1950.

 

Instead, it’s sixty-five years later, and none of us are held prisoner by the regime that put those men on top. Instead, writers like Ms. James get to publish – and see the public wildly embrace their stories. Criticize her all you want but, you have to admit, it’s good to be free.

 

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EMWynter

By day, E.M. Wynter guides others’ words as a public relations professional. After hours, she carves out her own vision through memoir and fiction.  Her latest piece “For Dear Life” centers on the time her mother made her attend a stranger’s funeral alone. E.M. is preparing for the publication of her first novel, a middle grade fantasy, but given her wide range of reading tastes, everything from Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien to John Irving and Larry McMurtry, she will not limit herself to any particular genre. You can connect with E.M. on Twitter at @WynterEM and read more by the writer at her website, emwynter.wordpress.com.

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