Picture yourself in a strange coffee haven, sans plasticine porters with looking glass ties. It’s San Diego in the mid-1990’s and, although smoking indoors has been banned for a little over a year, the lingering haze of ten thousand clove cigarettes gives everything the feel of a White Diamonds commercial. I’m at the counter ordering a round for my buddies when our high-maintenance friend arrives, out of breath and late, again.
“What do you want?” I mouth the words across the room so as not to disturb a reading of The Vagina Monologues.
“A caramel macchiato, 2% organic, extra-shot, extra-hot, extra-whip, with three Splendas and a dusting of dark chocolate,” he mouths back.
I shoot him an “okay” sign with my finger and thumb, turn to the Liz Taylor impersonator and say, “Make that five regular coffees.”
We’re there for our weekly game of Balderdash, a competition of intellect, creativity, and bullshittery –- the perfect distraction for the writerly sect. If you’ve never heard of it, in a nutshell, players pick a word, write their “definitions,” read them along with the correct answer, then vote on which is real. Points are awarded to those who choose the correct definition and to those whose definitions are chosen.
I open with this vignette because among that group was my best friend, Jeff, whom I could never fool. While the others fell prey to my pseudo-Websterisms time and again, every attempt at tricking him was not only dashed, it was balderdashed.
“How do you always know?” I asked one night after a particularly grueling tournament ended with the announcement they had run out of everything but decaf.
“Yours sound like you.”
“Huh? Whaddya mean they sound like me?” I mean, seriously. Pick a word –- any word -– balderdash, for example. Does this not sound like it was ripped straight from the pages of the OED?
I rest my case.
Then again, maybe I rest Jeff’s case. “It’s the way you put things,” he continued, “the phrasing, the word choices, the style –- the everything. Sure, they may sound like dictionary entries, but dictionary entries you wrote — even when they’re the correct definitions — if that makes any sense.”
Personally, I think it’s because I typed them.
And that, my friends, was the day I discovered my words had a voice behind them, and that voice was distinguishably mine.
The Authorial Voice
We’ve been celebrating diversity on the pages of Writer Unboxed, and there’s nothing more unique to a writer than their authorial voice. But what is it, exactly, and how can you find yours? Is it the narrative voice? A character voice? The voices in my head? Yes, and no…and yes. (more…)
My reading time is limited these days. Like, really, really limited. I’m not sure what it is– but it might possibly have something to do with homeschooling a kindergartener and a third grader while chasing a super active toddler around . . . not to mention feeding said children and (sort of) stopping our house […]
There’s a carnival game I love called Roller Bowler. The objective is to propel a bowling ball over a hump on a metal track. Sounds simple, but it’s not so easy. Too little force, and you won’t make it over the hump in the first place. Too much force, and the ball will go racing over the hump, […]
“Don’t you ever just, like, want it out there already?” This question was asked of me by my brother-in-law at a recent family gathering. Over the past couple of years, and his series of inquiries into the current state of my writing journey, I’ve endeavored to explain to him that most novel-length stories are rewritten […]
“I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out. It was easier to think if I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.” — Ernest Hemingway, A MOVEABLE FEAST As the summer folds into itself in the cooling nights, […]
Today’s guest is Rachel Funk Heller who began her career as a journalist and worked as an independent television writer/producer for twenty-five years. She is a former CNN producer who worked in both the Atlanta headquarters and in the Washington DC bureau. She is the author of The Writer’s Coloring Book®. Writing great fiction is […]
Though summer can be quiet in publishing as we all take vacation–instead of writing for a change–very seriously, there was still plenty of news-worthy links we wanted to share here at Writer Unboxed. We’ve divided them into handy dandy categories for you below, including print and digital news, craft advice, agent information, and more. #WUPrint […]
Since I teach a lot of online courses, I tend to seek out and study other online training offers. These may be blog posts, courses, webinars, workshops, conferences, and so much else. Many of these appear to be very high quality, full of value. But it’s also not uncommon for me to see: People selling […]
I ask writers – especially writers who recently started to publish – to consider this rule with regard to their family and friends: I will never let someone’s personal reactions to my work change our relationship. Writers won’t follow this rule because it’s an impossible rule to follow. People who say the right things will […]
The late great Ray Bradbury once said that a writer should read one poem, one short story and one essay every day. Most of us don’t read many short stories any more, but we read a lot of essays (often in the form of blogs). Poetry is like the superfood of writing education. Reading it […]