Thursday, July 3, 2014

Because It's All the Same Thing

I am not a visual person, but I find that I have a pretty good idea of who originated what posts as soon as they land on my tumblr dash; more significantly, even months later, I can spot who I reblogged something from when I'm scanning the thumbnails on my archive. Even though the thumbnails are tiny, and a lot of them are posting screenshots from the same game using the same sets of characters, or fanart based on the same fandom (did you know there's an active Moby Dick fandom?), or otherwise grouping themselves by similarity. It's not about the little avatars in the corner, either. If I happen to see a reblog before I see the original (which happens a lot when I'm scrolling backwards), if I see both regularly I'll recognize it as a reblog at once. I even recognize people I don't follow, who people I do follow reblog regularly. When someone who's been gone for awhile pops up, I think: "Oh, hey, that's Thus-and-So, she's back!"

Yet none of these people is trying for a distinctive look. I don't follow that sort of blog. Many of them are working hard to make their games, or their blogs, or their art look pretty; but they're not trying to trademark themselves. They're pleasing themselves and following their own taste and for the most part not trying to be original. They're just doing what they want and communicating about it in whatever way pleases them best.

Because that's how you become distinctive.

A lot of writing advice is out there about finding your voice. I've had roughly the same literary voice since I was eight, so I'm possibly a bad person to give advice; but I think that most people who aren't finding their voice aren't trusting themselves to talk.

You already have a voice, honey. Sit down and write and don't agonize about it so much. Say exactly what you mean. Mean exactly what you say. Make jokes you don't expect people to get. Tell the truth. Solve your plot problems. Listen to your characters. Binge-write self-indulgent journal rants in which you consciously use all the complex, specialist, absurd, pretentious words and phrases and sentence constructions you've ever wanted to. Imitate your favorite writer's virtues. Imitate your favorite writer's faults.

Your voice will emerge. It will sound like you. Anybody who has ever listened to you will be able to pick your prose out of a lineup.

But first you have to write the prose.

Write. Write. Write.

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