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Finding Your Voice

Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?

~ Fanny Brice

I just finished reading Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton. Not a how-to manual, this text explains how to develop your own individual voice – how to ditch the “writerly” style drilled into us in the classroom and make anything we write, fiction or nonfiction, unmistakably ours.I have immersed myself in craft books the past few months, with instructions on how to draft plot and create scenes, develop believable characters and write realistic dialogue. While all this information is useful and important, it has also been a bit overwhelming. Finding Your Voice has given me the confidence I need to just dig in and write and BE MYSELF. Not Jane Austen or Ernest Hemingway or even Anne Lamott or David Sedaris. One day, I hope an agent or editor will read my submission and find it to be fresh and unique and want to see my manuscript published. One day, I hope someone will pick up a book with my name on the cover and choose to read it simply because I wrote it.Because they love MY voice.This whole notion has been very liberating. Writing a grammatically correct but lifeless five-paragraph essay to please a teacher and earn an “A” is one thing; losing yourself in a relationship in an effort to be the person your partner wants/needs you to be is another. I have been guilty of both. I have even struggled with how to “present” myself when I blog. Do I portray myself as a product of higher education, an experienced pianist and instructor? An artist/craftsperson who makes things with her hands and sells them on Etsy? A pescetarian, a runner, a health nut? A homemaker, a mom, a pet owner? A single woman searching for her soulmate, navigating the minefield of online dating and getting her heart broken occasionally in the process?
The truth is I am ALL of those things. Until recently, I kept certain aspects of myself hidden so as not to offend anyone. But several weeks ago I made the decision to pull off the mask, to tear down the walls, to BE MYSELF, and the response has been gratifying. I did receive one nasty comment in response to the post on my personal blog about Larry the married guy which I deleted because it was (1) published anonymously and (2) written so poorly it was almost impossible to respond to.
You can’t please all the people all the time, right? I actually raised somebody’s shackles. So maybe I am doing something right.

Whether as a writer or as a human being, I have been an overly edited version of myself for far too long. From this moment forward, I am honest, I am authentic, I am ME.

I am free falling. I am walking the plank.

It’s a risk I am ready to take.

Marilyn Baron - May 28, 2012 - 8:32 am

Wonderful post. I’ll have to get a copy of that book. I believe you should be yourself. Your friends will love you for who you are.

Sandra Elzie - May 28, 2012 - 9:10 am

Hi Pam,
You go girl! The only way to succeed at anything in life is to stretch ourselves & take a risk now and then. Some are a little painful (like pinching our toes in new shoes) but sometimes the results are worth the discomfort when we learn that we can do something we never thought before that we could accomplish. (maybe like the 5-K I’ll be running in September??????)

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 9:36 am

You will love the book, Marilyn. As Dr. Seuss said, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” :-)

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 9:37 am

I’m looking forward to running that 5K with you, Sandy! :-)

Les Edgerton - May 28, 2012 - 10:10 am

Thank you so much for the generous and nice things you said about, Finding Your Voice, Pam–they meant a lot to me. I’m just delighted that you found it helpful in your own writer’s journey.

Blue skies,

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 10:17 am

Thank YOU for stopping by our blog and leaving a comment, Les. Your book was helpful to me on so many levels! Continued success in all your endeavors!

Elaine - May 28, 2012 - 10:28 am

Such a basic thing to learn, and yet the most easily forgotten. Thanks for the reminder!


Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 10:31 am

And arguably the most important, Elaine. And when I find something great, I *HAVE* to share! :-)

Tami Brothers - May 28, 2012 - 1:23 pm

Hey Pam! I totally agree that you should be yourself. Of course, easier said than done. I had to look at myself just now and see if I’ve been that honest. And the answer is no. I might have to consider digging deeper into ME and see how that goes.

I will definitely be grabbing Les’s book. I really need help with the voice. :)

Thanks for sharing.

Tami :alien:

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 1:38 pm

It’s hard to be transparent sometimes, Tami. But for the most part it’s working for me. You will LOVE the book. It’s one of my top three books on writing!

JB Hunt - May 28, 2012 - 2:40 pm

Pam, you are an inspiration!

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 2:48 pm

Aw, thanks, J.B.! :-)

Julee J. Adams - May 28, 2012 - 2:50 pm

Thanks for passing on another resource. I’m glad you found it. Live it, do it.

Debbie Kaufman - May 28, 2012 - 3:05 pm

Thanks for posting this, Pam. I wrestle with who I think I should be in writing, and have come to realize I won’t fit other people’s molds. And the great thing is, that’s completely all right with me!

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 3:33 pm

It’s funny, Julee, how I somehow always find just what I need just when I need it. Live it, do it, indeed!

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 3:34 pm

Exactly, Deb; why be a cheap imitation when you can be your awesome self? You are a terrific writer; don’t change a thing!

Carol Burnside - May 28, 2012 - 3:57 pm

Nice revelations. I’m glad you’re freeing the inner Pam. I look forward to learning more about you and reading your work.

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 4:13 pm

Thanks, Carol. I still believe that this is my year! :-)

Maxine - May 28, 2012 - 5:07 pm

I enjoyed your post and I think I’ll get the Edgerton book. It sounds like something I need. I’m working on “finding my voice”…

Sia Huff - May 28, 2012 - 5:20 pm

Sounds like Finding Your Voice is working for you – that’s great. I need to check it out too.
Just be yourself is great advice. I like you already. :)
Love the Fanny Brice quote. Don’t know if you’ve seen Funny Girl or know her story, but she was quite a woman.

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 6:32 pm

Go for it, Maxine. You won’t be sorry!

Pam Asberry - May 28, 2012 - 6:33 pm

I like you too, Sia. And yes, Fanny Brice was quite a woman. I haven’t seen “Funny Girl” in years. This might be a good time to watch it again. :-)

Linsey Lanier - May 29, 2012 - 10:27 am

Pam, so glad to hear you’re hitting the craft books. It *is* overwhelming, but well worth it. Les Edgerton’s Finding Your Voice made a profound impact on my writing. At least, I thought it did. I felt so free after reading him. Of course, all experiments didn’t work, but striving to be yourself in your writing is a learning process that never ends. Edgertons’ “Hooked” is also one of my keeper craft books.

Hubby and I saw “Funny Girl” on TV a few months ago. Now that’s the definition of a strong woman. :)

Pam Asberry - May 29, 2012 - 10:03 pm

I definitely need to check out “Hooked,” Linsey. Thanks for the recommendation!

Susan Carlisle - May 30, 2012 - 5:06 pm

I’m cheering you all the way. That man, that book, that star is out there and they’ll be all the better for being yours.

C.E. Hart - May 30, 2012 - 9:07 pm

Oh Pam,
I L-O-V-E this post! (Now I hear Tom Petty in my head, “And I’m free. I’m free fallin’!”)

How liberating it is to just be ourselves. I love people who are real. That’s what’s so wonderful about developing friendships. After the masks (that we all tend to wear now and again) come off, we are accepted just as we are. We all have our faults as well as gifts, and being ourselves is fulfilling and, as you said, freeing.

Wow. I FEEL GOOD after reading your post. (Do I hear a James Brown song now? lol)

One of the greatest compliments I’ve received as a writer is, “I love your writers voice.” :)

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