The Dream and the Reality

71a83a70-33b2-4e9c-89be-b9a98cf8220eI see myself in my dream as an accomplished writer, an author who has the ability to compose a truly great work of literature.

I can visualize, as I toil away on my keyboard, a flock of festive letters, like little, white snowflakes, floating up from my typewriter, transforming into magnificent words — nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and yes, even adverbs — and then slowly descending down to bedeck the blank pages of my book.

And then I wake up from the dream, sit down at my computer with a cup of hot coffee, and struggle to punch out enough words for a simple blog post.

There’s the dream and then there’s the reality.

Written for these one-word prompts: Fandago’s One-Word Challenge (compose), Scotts Daily Prompt, (literature), Your Daily Word Prompt (festive), Ragtag Daily Prompt (white), and Word of the Day Challenge (bedeck).

V is for Voice

DA7FDEA6-D87E-47FC-961A-A03636C901ACI’m so confused. Everything I’ve read about being a writer talks about finding your voice. I’ve never really understood what that means.

Someone told me that publishers and editors are looking for writers who have a distinctive voice. I was once told that I have a distinctive voice. But I was talking on the telephone to the person who said that.

So what, then, is voice when it comes to writing? I’ve read that finding your writing voice can be a struggle, whether you’re writing a novel, short story, flash fiction, or a blog post. No shit, Sherlock.

Your writer’s voice is supposed to be something that is uniquely your own. But what does that really mean? What the hell is writer’s voice? And how can you find something when you’re not even sure what it is?

Is it your style of writing? Is it your tone? Or is voice something else entirely?

According to one article I came upon, “voice is not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches a writer’s oeuvre.”

I’m sorry, but that didn’t help at all. “A writer’s oeuvre”? Seriously?

Another article said that “your tone, choice of words, choice of content, and even punctuation make up your authorial voice.”

But some articles I read suggested that voice, tone, and style are entirely separate elements.

“Voice and tone reflect your attitude about your subject and your readers. Voice is who the readers hear talking in your writing, and tone is the way in which you are doing the writing. The tone of your writing can vary with the situation, while the voice — the essential, individual thoughts and expression — is still your own.”

And what about style? “Style is a technical term for the effect a writer can create through attitude, language, and the mechanics of writing.” The writer’s style is based on choices about diction, syntax/sentence structure, detail, dialogue, literary devices, and rhythm. Does the writer use simple language or complex language? Is the language concrete or abstract?

So it seems to me that a writer’s voice may be based upon elements such as word choice, sentence patterns, subject matter, and attitude.

Well, I’m sorry. Even after reading all of these articles, I still don’t get what voice is. I understand style. I get what tone is. But voice? Uh uh.

I guess it’s good that I don’t fancy myself to be a real writer. Or maybe I am a writer, but with a perpetual case of laryngitis.

The Pretender


This quote by author Kurt Vonnegut resonated with me. Don’t we all, at times, pretend to be someone we aren’t but perhaps would rather be?

The quote struck a chord not so much with respect to my real life, but when it comes to my blog.

In real life I am who I am, for better or worse. And I’m at the age where, with more than six decades behind me, I’m not likely to be changing who I am. I guess you might say that I’m set in my ways.

But on my blog I am not limited by the physical properties of the real world. I’m not just some random senior citizen, an old fogie with internet access who has time on his hands and who rants and raves to anyone and to no one.

On my blog I can be whoever I want to be — or at least I can pretend to be whoever I want to be. 

When I write my posts, whether they are political and societal rants, casual observations, or short works of fiction, my words transcend physical and environmental characteristics. My age, gender, background, where I live, what I do, and my life situation are not important. It’s what I write that defines who I am to those who take the time to read my posts.

That doesn’t mean I’m living a lie or that it’s all just an act. I may be making up stories out of my imagination when I write my flash fiction pieces, but the opinions I express in my non-fiction posts are my own. And they are deeply held and voiced with conviction.

Yet I’m not sure I would share them the same way or to the same extent in the real world as I do here on my blog. Because, in the real world, people see me for what I am — or for what, to them, I appear to be.

Thus, their perceptions of what I have to say are colored. They may dismiss my rantings and the expression of my opinions and perspectives as those of some old coot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

And so, in the real world, I tend to keep my mouth shut.

But here on my blog I can be a writer of short stories. I can be a pundit, a pedant, a journalist, an editor. I can act as if I know what I’m talking about. I can pretend to be witty and engaging. I can pretend that others are interested in what I have to say about whatever is going on in the world around us; that my opinions matter to anyone other than to me and that they are worth sharing.

Most important, I can pretend to be the person I’ve always wanted to be.

And if, as Vonnegut says, we are what we pretend to be, that works for me.