I am feeling a little lost, and I am not really sure how it happened. I feel like I have just wandered off and lost myself among the tangents to the point that I no longer remember where I came from or where I am going. It is not upsetting. I just feel like I have come to a place where I can plop down, sit cross-legged on the mossy ground between a couple of my tangents, and scratch my head in bewilderment. I am bewildered within the wilderness of writing.
This blog had a purpose–but a personal one, not offering much of a definition of what it would look like, what I would write about, or how I would interact with readers. My goal is to write for 10,000 hours, but somewhere around hour 30 I got confused. Somewhere around hour 35 confusion turned into a dog chasing its tail without ever having remembered starting.
I look around at other blogs–some of the fun ones I follow like Creative Liar, and they are well-developed, of clear voice, and you get a sense that everything you read ties into a central idea. I know mine doesn’t have any of that. But I might also be too hard on myself. It is just a blog after all.
I am still listening to Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life and it has gotten me thinking. He examines the books the mean the most to him, the teachers that have stuck with him, and why he writes. While I have examined all of these things before, each with more or less scrutiny, what I have not thought about is where I fit in the literary world. Writing my novel and stepping back from it–looking at it from a distance I notice that I am having a hard time finding my voice in it. It is too simplistic. I don’t think it really sounds like me. It is lazy and uses too many conventionalities. It is pedestrian. I am afraid it is of the caliber of something Stephanie Meyer would write, and since I can write better than that in my sleep I am disappointed.
Granted I wrote it in a month. But I know I need to rewrite it, and I am struggling to center myself and come back to who I am as a writer. I need to do the same thing with the blog. Listening to Pat Conroy talk about how he has changed as a writer over the years, makes me remember that I am going to change as well. I am going to get better (one can only hope) and my voice is going to mature.
But that leaves the questions of where am I now? What is the voice of my generation? Where do I fit? I have been reading books from ions ago: Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, Eugenics and Other Evils, Sula, and Beloved. They all have strong voices, but they are a product of their times. It is something I can’t emulate. Something I shouldn’t emulate. While I admire them, to emulate them would run the risk of trying to rewrite them. This would take me further from my own voice, my own ideas. I had a realization while I was driving around this morning that I simply need to embrace my generation and my voice. I need to stop trying to be the next great Harper Lee, because all I end up trying to do is be Harper Lee.
But where does that leave me? It gives me a sense of what I am not, but I do not think I am any closer to understanding what I am as a writer. I have this vague, morphing, misty idea of what I am–what my voice sounds like–but every time I try to explain it, it wriggles out from between my hands and vanishes. It is so fragile. Fickle. A Bitch. With a capital B.
There are so many things that lead me away from my voice: trying to write a novel in a month, trying not to offend anyone (Hello Grandma. Sorry about the B word), trying to find a theme, trying to write better than I can, trying to be a writer I’m not, trying to respect families wishes (promised mom I wouldn’t write about her on the blog, but considering she MADE me is that really fair? Can you really not write about half of yourself?), trying not to get too personal, trying to get too personal, lying, censoring myself. On and on.
It all can drive a writer mad.
I am now trying to ask myself a couple of questions as I write: Is it true? Is it me? Can I say it better? Is it original? But they are sometimes hard to answer.
Having said all of that, I have to say this is the first blog post I have liked in a while.