So, I’m in the middle of this thing called mid-life crisis. I recently had a child, my first girl, only about 2 decades after my first-born son. I’m taking this class, right? This writing class and I feel really geeked up about taking it. I’m like, Finally! I’m going to be able to express myself using the proper tools from the writer’s toolbox! So, I’m getting geared up in the month before the class — I get two short stories dusted off; I begin revising them (again).
Then, it’s the day before the course begins! I go online and read the syllabus. My heart drops. The focus of this course is Literary (with a capital “L”) writing. I know nothing of this writing. While I love Hemingway, I’m no Papa H. I tried to read more of his work outside of my favorite short story — Hills Like White Elephants — I lost interest. I got through 1/2 of his bio and wondered why the heck such a man would ultimately kill himself. I stopped reading.
Here I am, in love with Hemingway and the mystique and bravado of the man yet I cannot get into his work, or his bio! Strike 1.
I think about backing out of the course. I begin daydreaming about looking for an excuse as to why I cannot do this course. None come to mind except Chicken!!
Hunkering down, I do the course. I try and read contemporary fiction that is well-written (White Teeth; see my review of it here!) and I begin to understand the whole character-driven storyline and plot.
I still don’t see myself as this type of writer. Strike 2.
Then, we get to week 7’s short story submission and the subsequent critique. My word choices were questioned heavily. So what I used altitudinous in a sentence that was not a comic piece, or an Olde Ye English novel. So what? I’m a bit crazy. But, the real so what is my writing course instructor (an MFA professor) said that while I write straight forward, clear prose that is readily understandable, I inserted words that took the reader out of the story. Strike 3.
I wanted to stop the course right there. And guess what? Life happened and I did stop the course right there. Why? Because what I thought was my ‘voice’ was being questioned and challenged.
Okay, that’s 3 strikes. I’m out. The question is, will I ever jump back in?
It’s been several weeks since that ‘voice’ incident. I’m less belligerent. I am more humble. I still don’t get ‘voice’ and what mine is.
So, I will research it. Get feedback from others. Read interviews of famous authors, and the not so famous ones, and see if I can refine and define my ‘voice’.
I’ll see you on the flip side…