Every writer has his or her own voice. No, not the voice they speak with, but the voice they narrate with, the voice they tell stories with. That voice creates the feel of the stories they write. Sometimes, if a writer is particularly lucky, they find their voice quickly. Most of the time, that’s not the case. It’s like a game of Hide and Seek with the writer doing the searching while the voice does the hiding.
It took me years to find my voice. Once I did I knew it was the voice I wanted to write in. But just finding it isn’t good enough. Once I found the voice I had to develop it, I had to hone it, make it mine. That took as long, if not longer, as finding it did.
This became the subject of a conversation between my good friend, Dawn, and myself, recently as we sat in the living room of my house. I sat across from her on one of the kitchen chairs while my wife and her mom talked on the couch. Every once in a while the conversations would cross paths and mingle for a moment or two, but for the most part, they were separate. Dawn made note of something in my writing style, in my voice, something she liked: It’s like the reader is part of the story.
Keep this in mind for a second.
I call my voice ‘conversational,’ because that’s what it is. I like to write in the same tone as if I were having a conversation with someone (or many someones). I like to try and get the reader to feel something while reading my stories. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. I want you, the reader, to feel like you are part of the story, that you are there.
I write the way I do because I want you to feel something. I want you to feel the sadness or the happiness of the characters. I want you to feel their pain or (gasp) the love. I want you to feel their sickness. I want you to feel. If you feel something from reading one of my stories, then I’ve done my job.
Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that the author of a story is also its first reader. I agree, and with that in mind I write stories I like and that I think you will, as well. When you pick up one of my books or any of The Brown Bag Stories I mail out each month, it should be like getting in a car with the characters. They’ll take you on a road trip and try to entertain you. If at any point during the trip you lose interest, well, then I failed you, because at that moment all you want is for the trip to be over, and it should never be that way. You should enjoy every second of the trip as you go, not just the destination, but the journey.
I want you to walk away from one of my books satisfied. I’m a conversationalist in my writing voice. I want you to be part of the story. And that’s why I write the way I do.
Before I go, I just realized something a couple paragraphs up, it’s something that I don’t think I have ever posted here on my blog. For that, I apologize and feel a little embarrassed over. Let me explain:
Back in April I started creating a booklet called The Brown Bag Stories. This was to be a 12 month long endeavor. It is partially a way to get my stories into hands of readers, but also a way for me to give to those same readers. These booklets are not professionally made magazines, but they are like mini-mags, holding one short story in each one of them, plus my author notes about the stories contained therein. We started putting these out in June, leaving them at coffee shops and comic book stores and anywhere else that allowed us to. I mail a handful of them out each month as well.
Oh, and the good thing about these booklets? They’re free. You don’t have to pay a dime for them. All you have to do is ask.
This is kind of my way of letting you read some of my work for free, to let you determine if you want to take a chance on me and my work, a chance that might one day have you purchase one (or all) of my books and/or tell others about my work. My hope is you like the stories and would want more of them.
At the moment, this is just a 12 month thing. The first seven issues have been released to the world. There are five left, including a Valentine’s Day story that may or may not be more of a lady’s treat. Sorry guys–it’s the one time of year that I get to show a sensitive, somewhat romantic side.
I’ve also thought about possibly making them digital in the end–maybe even creating a TBBS blog or website dedicated solely to the little booklets.
If you would like to receive a copy of The Brown Bag Stories, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name and address and I’ll send them out to you. If you would like any of the previous editions, let me know and I’ll send those along as well. And remember, they’re free. What more could you ask for?
Until we meet again, my friends…