by Marcia Lee Laycock
The voice coming out of the recorder did not sound like me. I wrinkled my nose. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of it. But the interviewer laughed. “Everyone I interview says the same thing. Keep in mind, this is an electronic version of your voice. It’s not the real thing.”
That got me thinking. What is the “real thing” in terms of my “voice” as a writer? Everyone tells us we have to have one, and that it must be strong and distinctive. But how do you know if you even have one? It’s one of those rather illusive things that is difficult to describe and it’s almost impossible to teach someone how to find it.
But there is hope because, yes, we all have one. It’s an amazing thing, but each of us is unique and our work reveals that uniqueness. Each of us comes to the writing with our own experiences, our own perspectives, our own stories, and we tell them with our own distinct voices.
Think of three of your favourite authors. If you picked up a book by each one with a blank cover that did not reveal their names, could you tell which book was written by which author? Chances are it would be easy, because each has a distinct way of telling a story. They use words differently, sentence length and structure will vary, and the very tone of the writing will give them away.
Young writers, like young painters, often find themselves copying the voice of a master. Years ago I wrote a short piece about my daughter that still makes me chuckle when I read it because it is so obvious I was reading a lot of Walter Wangerin Jr.’s work. I can hear his ‘voice’ in the story. That’s not all bad. As a painter learns the craft by imitating the masters, so we too, as writers, can learn a lot by imitating the master writers. But like those young painters who eventually develop their own style, we too must develop our own authentic voice as writers.
Part of that process involves listening to the authentic voice of the One who has given us the gift of writing. As we hear and heed His voice, we grow into the people and the writers He intends us to be. As we grow closer to Him, His voice becomes one we recognize and want to follow.
John 10:3&4 says: “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
Praise God we have a Saviour whose voice will never cease calling us to Him. Praise God He has given us each a distinct voice with which to “… proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7).
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
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