Summer heat is still camped over South Georgia and will stay here for at least another month. There are hints of fall in the evening, when the cicadas start to fade and the breeze carries a bit of a chill from the ocean. The nearby high school keeps us entertained by their loud football games which, thanks to them being a block away, we can hear the announcer's play by play, the cheerleaders, the band, and the ROAR of the crowd during every...single...play. Soon we'll be able to sit out in the courtyard with tea and enjoy the drum line without being carried away by mosquitoes.
I hope summer treated you well. I hope you were able to be inspired, soak up some rest and relaxation and figure out those plot problems that may have been plaguing you at the end of May. I spent the summer on hiatus from writing and learned more about myself as a writer than I ever have while actually writing. As a tropical storm creeps up on the Georgia coast and the wind shakes the pines out my window, I have one piece of encouragement to offer on this IWSG day:
LISTEN TO YOUR VOICE AND WRITE FROM THERE.
YOUR voice. Not that of your favorite author, not that of the most recent pop-fiction novel that will be displaced in three months or so after the film's fizzled. Listen to the deep places of your soul, that place where you walk barefoot and leave imprints in the mud. Get quite. Take the time to be silent with yourself and your writing and listen. Read it out loud. Does it sound like you? Does it sound familiar? If not, consider rewriting until it does.
I'm not talking dialect. Dialect writing is hard to master and hard to make come across on the page as authentic. I'm talking about the way you speak to yourself, the way those around you express themselves. Who we are and what we do bleeds into our writing and, if we're lucky, comes out on the page. Maybe like me you've spent a lifetime avoiding your authentic voice but TRUST ME: you will not write one piece of truth if you don't first write from your own, unique voice. And I don't care if you don't like it. It's taken me 39 years to make peace with my Southern heritage, my Southern voice. Thirty-nine years of trying to write like the great classicists, the modern heroes and heroines of literature and genre. It took three months of not writing to have it come in, sit down, fix me a cup of tea and look me deep, deep in the eyes.
And you know what? I like what I see and I intend to let it out and share it. LET YOUR VOICE OUT, dear Friend. Come on. Let's see what you've got!