The Sight Of One’s Voice

’Find your voice,’ say the writing seers, as you dip your toe into the blogging and authoring world.

Which is odd when you think you are writing to be read not heard – unless you’re going straight to Audible, a rather pretentious alternative to the 1980s’ films that went straight to video.

It’s one of those statements that can flummox the novice and be difficult to explain, leading to advice such as ‘you’ll know it when you find it’. This is up there with ‘you just know when they’re the one’ and ‘this Government will make a difference’ as the most universally unhelpful guidance you can offer the perpetually bewildered.

But, and here’s the thing, I’m beginning to wonder if you need to find a blogging voice or whether it’s one of those things that emerges of its own accord with the passing of the years, like cynicism and hairy ears. It finds you, if you like.

I didn’t have expectations about blogging when I started and I certainly had no ideas about who I might engage with through reading and commenting. If you’d asked me I’d have assumed people of my own age and demographic, broadly.

Digressing briefly, because that’s what I do, there’s a fascinating programme on the Beeb just now that follows a prosecutor as she puts together cases to be taken to trial. These take team work with the police and other lawyers and so far we’ve seen them create cases against those involved in modern slavery in British towns and using drones to get drugs into prison. The thing is the star of this show is totally blind, using a guide dog and some nifty technical gizmos to get about and do her job.

In judging witnesses, indeed people generally, she goes by what they say. She gets no visual clues. She gets gender, accents, tone, and emotions through sound. Unlike we who use our five (or in the case of the Textiliste, six – she has a bullshit sensor) senses. And she is very comfortable with that.

I cannot begin to categorise my own little blogging community. I’ve met a few and I’m pretty sure in some cases, had we met face to face first the friendships I’ve forged on the blog might have been stillborn because those visual clues would have created a ‘first impression’ that might have coloured our reactions to each other.

Instead that first impression is based around other clues. Humour, empathy, articulacy, things you can pick up from the written word. I follow and happily engage with people half my age, my children’s age from parts of the globe and imbued with cultural memes so far from my own.

Without visual clues to help me, and them, we must form our judgements against a different set of criteria. One we are not used to using.

I’ve been involved in running the Bloggers Bash from its inception in 2014. One of the recurring themes for those attending the meet ups for the first time is their nervousness whether, and their delight at finding that, people are in fact like they are on their blog.

’I was really worried about what (other bloggers) would be like.’

It’s as if we expect to be conned because we cannot see and hear (and maybe smell and touch, if you are members of the Fngg Brotherhood of Trampoling Monks Of St Sponge) said Bloggers.

But I’ve met a fair few bloggers now and they are pretty much what it says on the tin (or in the About section – though if you have a blog and not an About  section which also allows comments, you are missing a trick – just saying).

Their ‘voices’ are original and they are unique and above all pretty authentic. Whatever they try to be, those voices come through.

And like me, probably without trying. Their voice is there. As they settle to what makes them comfortable their voices emerge and if they are thoughtful, empathetic, generous, humorous and so on, that comes out.

I know this isn’t always the case. There are clever con artists out there but for the broad majority that isn’t the case.

And better still, those voices aren’t distorted by the kinds of instinctive prejudices and stereotyping which we are all prone to lean on when forming our judgements if using the full range of available clues

It means I’m exposed to a wider range of people than might otherwise be the case. Which is, I’d say, all rather splendid.

Now all I need to do is find my voice in my novels and I’m set….

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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56 Responses to The Sight Of One’s Voice

  1. Ritu says:

    I’d like to think you’ve found your voice His Geoffleship! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. davidprosser says:

    How you gonna find your voice if you write about a mute, Geoff?
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that you’re correct in your assessment regarding the finding of one’s blogging voice. I believe that you have either always had one, but didn’t know it; or that it evolves as you continue to write.

    Like

  4. Love this, and I think that’s why I’ve really enjoyed the blogging so far. It’s a community so far-flung and diverse–there’s no way I could have gotten together this kind of party if I’d been shown pics and asked to pick a group.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post, Geoff. I’ve wondered about that voice myself. I hesitated to write anything because I didn’t write flowery, poetic prose like so many other of my writing friends. I am a “give it straight and simple kind of person with as few words as possible. I guess that’s how I speak in real life as well. I guess we all have to do it in our own way. Many woman have a sixth sense. 😉 That’s why we are so dangerous. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve yet to discover my writing voice in my two novels (yet to be published). I guess we’re so used to hearing ourselves in our heads that it eludes us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hummm, speaking for our esteemed readers, I expect to authentically “hear” the voice of the blogger in a blog. But even then, I love both to read and write blogs posts that weave in and out of narration and fully quoted dialogs between the folks being spoken about. I think it’s a very useful story teller’s tool. You do this very well and I want to be you when I grow up. . .

    But in a novel, do I (as an esteemed reader again) expect to authentically “hear” the author as narrator, or as an pure omnipotent narrator (not restricted by any existing flesh and blood personality), or sounding like a distinct personality himself ? ? ? I think the latter would confuse and frustrate the reader – leaving them wondering who is telling this tale anyway.

    I have pondered this some and have noticed that I am willing to tolerate all kinds of reasonable but offensive muck from fictional characters or even realistically portrayed real 3rd parties, but (for example) I’ve been known to abandon novels where the narrator stoops to using F-bombs to tell his story. I just don’t care to “listen” (or waste precious reading time) to someone so limited or undisciplined. This goes to credibility your honor.

    For non-fiction, I expect to learn something from the narrator and thus I expect him/her to be better spoken than me and prove to me that I should heed his/her voice.

    For fiction, I hope to be entertained. The story can be dark and even gory, with characters as foul as needed, but the narrator – he/she still needs authenticity and enough humor and discipline to deserve the time I’m giving them. I want to “view” the story and not myself be drug down into the mire. A great story teller manages the imagery of getting me to a pub table with them and unfolding their story in a fun and engaging way. I should lose track of the number of refills I order.

    With my own writing, I’m always trying to deserve the short amount of time I hope to get from our esteemed readers. So – this is a valuable question on the face of it.

    This is longer than I planned, but when one poses hard questions, one must expect that another one will dig until something that feels like an answer is uncovered. So there you have it. Fun thinking out loud Geoff. . . Thanks for throwing this out there.

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Gary that was excellent and yes there are different types of voice we need even though there is a wide range within each type. It’s exciting jiggling with ones own but I cannot pretend to be something I’m not. If I get too sentimental the urge to make a fart noise is overwhelming. Brilliant comment, Gary

      Like

  8. I have yet to meet a blogger who I have not enjoyed their company. As someone who has to sort out the good from the bad, from just an advert, the written word is quite powerful. As far as you go Geoff, I have enjoyed following your blog and who knows maybe the Squire and I will get to attend the Bloggers Bash.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I know if I tried to write a novel all the characters would just sound like me, so I stick to nonfiction. In person I am often pretty blunt( not rude I hope)and straightforward. I think my writing voice is usually pretty straightforward also. I agree with you that we don’t have to go looking for our voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I’m not sure how I’d categorise mine. I’m a woolly headed sort of feeble liberal whose never sure even when I sound sure but then again I can rant with the best. Hopefully with some awareness of how absurd I am when I do. Thanks Elisabeth

      Liked by 1 person

  10. ALL women have a BS metre Geoff – and so do many men. Every blogger I’ve met in the round has been as I had known they would be from the impressions they sent out from their blogs. I love blogging – like you I started with no expectations, no clue of what might happen. Having an on-line diary seemed crazy enough. I have learned so much – people are so fascinating and clever and multi-levelled and every day a little selection from life on this wonderful globe tumbles into my mail box. I am informed, inspired, entertained and uplifted all over my morning coffee or lunchtime herbal. Are you having a moment of doubt about your voice? The wonderful thing about your talent is it’s ability to be *multi-lingual, cross-genred and completely unboxable. I never know what I will get and that keeps me endlessly intrigued. Your voice is unique and growing stronger with every passing month! (Imo 🙂 )

    *Multi-lingual in the sense of hopping through the circuits of emotional impact. Tears of laughter or empathy or sorrow can flow on any given morning. Horror or hilarity, depth or skittish frivolity, travel stories to futuristic sci-fi. Your own mythologies for god’s sake are interspersed with two irritatingly banal blokes who poke at each other over something trivial – just like real life!

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      Well, who knew? I’m officially a thing. I will cast myself in amber and considered myself henceforth as a paperweight. You are a lovely lovely (fundamentally disguised) fantastic judge. And seriously- me? – your opening remarks summed it up. PS NOPE I’m not worried about my voice at the mo thank heavens. And yes it does change and I too think improve with use.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    I think like many I started a blog with no real idea of what blogging is. I was told to write out how pain made me feel…
    I was a miserable winger “Alas, Alack poor me!’ I hope in the last seven years I have evolved, grown and found my voice. I have met, in person and virtually so many wonderful people. You Geoff have a wonderful blogging voice and you have, as Ritu says , found your authors voice and it is marvelous.
    I like to think of you as a good friend, your blogs are always a pleasure to read, as are your books! Keep writing keep using your voice keep being you , you are bloody brill. 😀💜

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Charli Mills says:

    From the first time I read your blog, I heard your voice. It was how you presented your Dad’s letters that held me in thrawl to listen. “Voice” sounds like a misnomer for writers, but it is a writer’s soul on the page, their essence, the things that can’t be replicated or faked. Even Nanjo Castille has a voice!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mick Canning says:

    I suppose if you just write, eventually you find your voice. That is to say, if you write ‘naturally’ (Oh, I know what I mean!). And blogging does rather obscure age differences, which I really like.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I suspect your voice involves a fair number of puns, a dog, and some humored observations on garden and city strolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Al Lane says:

    I’m fairly sure I could read a couple of lines cut and pasted from your blog into a blank document and know that it’s you from a blind reading… that’s your voice. That’s why everyone’s here… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve been told many times that I write how I speak. In fact, put a piece of writing written by me in front of some people (who have no idea who’s written it) and some of those people will guess it’s by me. Maybe because of the Welsh twang? I only know this because somebody once said to me that my emails sound exactly the same way as I talk. However, maybe they were saying that because they knew the email was from me?

    Love the bit about the ‘about me’ page. Well done for mentioning it. I’ve had a few new people visit and leave me comments recently, but know nothing about them from their blogs. For all I know, some of them could be spambot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      You put me onto that irritation but now, if I’m followed and they either don’t have an about page or don’t allow comments, then unless it really is a corking blog i leave well alone. As for the voice, well, since your short stories put the willies up everyone it could be that rather than your intrinsic welshness…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Just so you know, I’m not at all what I pretend to be, Geoff. Upon meeting me, most people are surprised to discover a ageing male wrestler with cat issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This says so much Geoff and I agree with every word, except maybe the bit about the guide dog as I wasn’t there to see that show! I enjoy meeting bloggers around the world and am now fairly confident of who I’ll find when meting them. My husband still refers to every blogger as a drug crazed truck driver, despite meeting some lovely ones along the way. We are a special breed that’s for sure and we each have our own voice. Love this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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