Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Finding Your True Voice
There's a prevailing sense in the world of writing that everything has already been said. Truly, it has. The human race has always experienced birth, the triumphs and tragedies of life in a transitory world, and death; and mankind has written of these experiences for as long as there has been the written word.
The themes are universal. Comparative mythology has demonstrated that they've cropped up, throughout history, within all cultures around the globe.
But look around at our own culture in this day and age. There has never been a human situation to replicate this one, not since the dawn of time. And our age needs the nourishment of stories as much as any other that has been or is yet to be. What I'm describing here is the artist's imperative to capture the spirit of the moment, to clothe something universal to human experience in a form that's relevant to people in the modern day.
Find your own voice. There has never been - nor will there ever be - another person like you. Perhaps everything has been said before, but not in the unique and particular way that YOU can say it when you're allowing your own true voice to ring through in your writing.
Our world is in constant flux, ever evolving. There can never be a definitive statement made on any topic to stand for all time. The spirit of invention must constantly be revived, else all humanity flounder in the mire of fixed ideas and beliefs, like old fossils and stones in the river that the flow of life rushes passed.
Don't worry about being original; to be yourself should be your only concern. You came into this world to express something that no one else could. If you stifle that inner need to communicate out of fear of retreading old ideas, then we'll all be made the poorer for it.
There seem to be dual personalities existing within many writers. There is the exhibitionist self that always has an eye on the readers and the market at large. "Look at me!" it says. "Look at what I wrote!" It's easy to identify writing that comes from such an ego place; it smacks of self-satisfaction, and though the prose may be immaculate it resembles a kind of exotic flower - something to be admired from a distance. Luckily there is another self within the writer that is motivated by the desire to communicate. When we're in touch with this aspect of ourselves then we understand, intuitively, that art is meant to bring people together and create a sense of unity. Then we write with gracious humility, offering what knowledge and skill we have towards the purpose of touching others.
THIS kind of writing is easily perceived, too, because it reaches directly into the heart. It honors and dignifies the soul of writer and reader alike.
In other words, if we write for love of art and humankind - and not primarily from a place of desiring recognition, wealth or fame - then we come into our own authentic voices. That's where the true potency of our words is derived from.
Seth Mullins is the author of "Song of an Untamed Land", a novel of speculative fantasy in lawless frontier territory. Visit Seth at http://authorsden.com/sethtmullins.
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