The voice of a writer

We all know writers who can tell many tales with the same voice – Agatha Christie, Truman Capote, James Patterson,

I prefer the less known writers who express themselves with many voices in different genres.

My favorite is Doris Lessing, best known for The Golden Notebook, which was a “must read” for women during the radical feminist 60s and 70s.

As a reader (I didn’t think of myself as a writer back then) I admired her versatility. She wrote novels about South Africa and about cats. Her works included short stories, poetry, essays, criticisms, science fiction and a clever little prank she pulled on publishers.

Using a pseudonym she sent out manuscripts for The Diary of a Good Neighbour by Jane Somers, which many publishers rejected. One commented that it was very similar to the writings of Doris Lessing (which shows that within her many works, her voice was still clearly hers). Only after it was published did she reveal herself to be the author. 🙂  Brilliant.

Now that I am a writer, I do not seek to find my voice (as is often suggested) but to increase my vocal range, so to speak. I have written non-fiction spiritual genre books and now branch out to include a novel of Saint Francis that I hope goes beyond an historical or biographical account but is a reflection of our modern times.

It’s work, often a struggle. It’s not so much the research (thank you, Google and the local library). It’s forcing the limits of my own writing abilities. I suppose, it’s much like a singer trying to hit that high note.

In conclusion, what we writers have to say is important. Equally so is how we say it. As every artist – the good ones, that is – strive to discover new ways of expression (which is why I also like the musician Sting) all writers should push themselves to increase their vocal range.



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