Voice. When you ask an agent or a publisher what’s the key thing they look for in a manuscript, they nearly always say voice. When pressed on what exactly that means, the answer is usually some version of “it’s hard to define, but I know it when I see/hear it”.
Cue all writers dropping their heads into their hands and crying out “arghhhhh!”.
The bottom line is that “voice” is authentic, distinctive and unique. It has to be true to you (or your character).
It hit me very powerfully last year how important it is to have a voice. Thanks to a stinking cold, I lost mine and could only force out a squeaky hiss or “talk” to people who could lip read. I couldn’t call out if I wanted someone’s attention or shout if something was wrong. My circle of communication was reduced to people in a half metre radius and even then it was extremely hard work.
That got me thinking about people who don’t have a voice – not a literal noise coming from the vocal chords, but no way of speaking up for their rights or justice, sharing their thoughts and feelings and experiences. I felt impotent, weak and panicky when I couldn’t communicate properly. I was at the mercy of people with stronger and louder voices, who really didn’t have to try hard at all to talk over me and drown me out.
Despite the rise of social media, traditional media still exerts its control and influence over us. It chooses what we focus on, what we overlook or ignore, and whose opinion we listen to. We’re still pushed, pulled and coerced by it in any number of ways that we’re totally unaware of.
We live in a noisy world with a continual massive overload of information. Why should I bother adding to that noise with this blog? Why should you bother listening to me? Only because we should all bother listening to each other whenever we can. By sharing the world through our own eyes, we learn and understand, know and empathise.
Previously on this blog, I’d set out to share my writing journey, mostly in terms of the writing know-how I picked up along the way to try and help others. However, with many more experienced and knowledgeable people out there doing a much better job of sharing writing tips and insights, I don’t feel qualified or motivated to add to that.
There are so many different things I want to shout about, question, explore and challenge. That may seem like a slightly random blog purpose, but the issues and situations that grab me and stir up passion are the very things that ultimately inform and inspire my writing.
Decision to keep blogging, tick. Blog purpose, tick. But how to relaunch? Should I start a new blog with a new name? If so, what would it be? Then it hit me. Once Upon A Mel was still perfect. Because it’s not just about the stories I’m writing, but the story I’m living!
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