As most of you know, I am current attending a writing workshop hosted by Writescape’s own Ruth Walker. We are covering a number of different facets of writing, each one designed to make us, as a writers, break out of our comfort zones. I LOVE that. I love seeing what new thing I can accomplish, what a new genre feels like under my pen. I’ll be the first to admit that I may not be suitable for some genre’s but I want to find that out for myself.
One of the recent exercises is on ‘voices’ as in our ‘writer’s voice’. In case you don’t know what that is, think about the books you’ve read, about your favorite author and consider this, if their name was not on the cover of the book, would you know it was them? Chances are you would.
What about the ghostwriters out there? Or replacement writers? Yes, a writer can change their style of writing to meet a requested project, or to try and fill in for another writer but I feel ultimately, tried and true fans would notice the difference. It is possible though and the basis of our assignment.
They say a writers voice is shaped by the landscape of their lives. The scenery they grew up in, the people they knew, their own life experiences. For example, have you noticed that most Canadian writers write stories set in Canada, with characters from Canada? The same can be said for U.S. writers and European etc.. It is the old adage ‘write about what you know’.
So, the challenge was to try and write in a voice that wasn’t ours. Like we had been raised in another country, time or even planet.
Well I tried and as much as I am always looking to stretch my writing, I felt I couldn’t shake my ‘writer’s voice’ all I managed to do was change the scenery. That the pieces I wrote ended up being variations of my own voice; accents if you will.
So I put this to you, my hopefully growing fans, you’ve read my writing (right?), my short stories like Snow Blind and the excerpts of Echoes and Appetites (if not please do). Let me know if you think I was able to change my writers voice.
As always, I encourage you, if you like my writing, tell others and always comment. I love hearing from you. It is not only good for my ego, but it helps me improve.
So here are the two short pieces I wrote for the class.
Playing With Words: Assignment #2
By Dale Long.
The miles bleed away behind and stack up in front. Tires humming, thrumming as asphalt meets rubber. The yellow line flash, flash, flashes. All the highways, the I’s blend into one. Long ribbons of asphalt reach out and recede, tangled and woven like a bed of black snakes, twisting and turning, aimless until guided, climbing mountains, stretching impossible on the plains. Trees, brush, rock and sand flash by the window, blending into a kaleidoscope of textures and still the car moves on. Destinations are finite, driving is infinite.
The brain rails against its cage, the container that pilots the car, as it creates. Worlds expand and contract. Music weaves, colours and binds. Memories. Forgotten paths walked again, forgotten voices speak.
But time keeps moving, bodies at rest decay, bodies in motion, are. They just are. Everthing is new, the road calls. Adventure ahead, it whispers. Come, come, come its words flash yellow. No arrows on those dashes. Arrows indicate a contrived path, a correct direction, but destination is finite.
Flash, flash, flash. Forward or back, direction is fluid as long as movement is constant so just keep moving.
The wind sighs softly, capping waves and ruffling papers under the Underwood typewriter on the table beside me. The sun – hot but not close – inspires the condensation to bead on the outside of my glass, taking on the green hue of its icy contents and salty rim. I burrow my brown toes deeper into the golden sand. My laptop sits in quiet anticipation on my lap as waves wash foam almost to my toes, but falling short again. Like my kitchen full of raw ingredients in anticipation of their combination, shrimp, wild rice, lemon, it waits for my fingers to descend and fill the blank screen with black. I close my eyes and drink it in. It never gets old. I can hear the palm trees sway, the tinkle of delicately tickled ivory and a voice softly crooning wafts out to me from the Lou’s Bar, on the waves of delicious odours, and suddenly a voice speaks, a picture forms. I open my eyes and black slowly fills the blank screen.
The smell of coconut sunscreen, the salty tang of Margarita, the warmth of the sun, all building blocks and a world opens up at my finger tips. I pity the corporate vacationers that pollute the beaches every March but thank them just the same. The quiet they leave behind when they return to their glass towers, crowded dirty streets, seems so much sweeter.
Bronzed perfection drifting by breaks my concentration, “Excuse me miss, you dropped your sarong.” Flimsy fabric passes from my hand to hers. Fingers graze, eyes touch, waves tug at our feet. “I know this place…”
The first one I set in the early 60’s and was inspired by the road stories of Route 66. The second one I had a Hemmingway/Jimmy Buffett/Casablanca thing going on.
And before you ask, no, I don’t know where it comes from. It shows up as pictures and I describe said pictures. I feel like I’m cheating…