Taking a break from the final home stretch editing for "A Hero's Spark" I started reading Adriana Trigiani's newest book, "The Supreme Macaroni Company." I'm halfway through and I've been reading it in my spare time over the last couple days. I can't put it down.
What happens in the book, you ask?
Not much, really. I mean, I'm halfway through the book, and really all that's happened is an Italian American shoe maker in her thirties is marrying an Italian tanner in his fifties...and her mother planned the wedding between Christmas and Valentine's Day.
Wow, you might say, so, no explosions, no sex, no car chases?
Nope. And I can't put it down.
See, here's the thing about Adriana Trigiani's writing: She tells small stories in a huge way. Valentine, her heroine in this series of stories, in a girl in her thirties who is single (until halfway through this book) but who lives with a very loud, very tight knit, very big family. And it's the stories in and about the family that are wonderful. I don't sew and I hate arts and crafts and yet I'm lost in wonder as she describes cutting patterns for new shoes.
She has an amazing writer's voice.
That's something we writers all hear about once the world realizes we might just be serious about this writing thing. "You have to find your voice." I had a lot of critique partners, agents, editors all tell me the same thing over and over when I was marketing "Lies in Chance".
It took me a while to find that voice, but when I did, my first novel, "Dream in Color," was born. If you ask my mother, the first 104 pages of "Dream" are the best writing I've ever done.
Finding your voice might be one of hardest things a writer has to develop but once you've got it, you've got it for better or worse. Sustaining it through the length of a novel is then the challenge. Sometimes we run into stretches where we produce zero words. Some call it writer's block, I call it not being able to hear my voice.
Those of you who know my work, know I write under two names. (Ironically, the work that's closest to who I am in person is the work I don't publish under my own name. ) My plan, come this summer after "A Hero's Spark" is done, is to find yet another voice and start a new book series under yet another name.
Keeping that voice loud and clear is a big part of writing a coherent novel. Blogging has opened a door to millions who have a voice, have something to say, and can say it clearly, concisely, in short spurts. I tend to blog when I'm stumped in my novels. Somehow, talking, just talking, which is all blogging really is, turns up the volume on my writer's voice.
Like everything with writing finding your voice and listening to your voice is an intangible. Can you write a book without a clear voice? Sure. Will it be a great book many people love? Doubtful. If you can't hear your own voice, no one else will be, either.
So today, as you're banging away at the computer, listen. Listen to the voice in your head. You may have to listen closely, because your voice might have laryngitis. But listen...you'll hear it...and you'll be a way better writer for it.