I had a sign-out sheet with a backlog of students waiting in line to borrow one of my books.
The year was 1993 and I was in a tough boarding school back in Africa. By 14, I’d written about 25 stories that filled 50+ large notebooks. I’d cut out pictures from glossy magazines, glue them to the front of my books, and they instantly became novels. If I found a picture I liked with some funky caption like “No Sun, No Problem” pitching self tanning lotions, I’d weave a new story around the title – taking it another direction with a Mediterranean love storyline .
Those handwritten books had been a hit at boarding school and I actually had a sign-out sheet. Four years later, my collection of stories had grown and included my flagship storyline – The “Tough Situations” trilogy about an assassin.
Until one hot summer day in Lagos, in an act of defiance (long story), I matched up to the dumpster and chucked them all in. Years of creativity gone in a flash.
I would look back on that symbolic day years later as a public display of ingratitude towards God.
After that defiant act, my writing took a technical turn as I moved into a technical world. For years, I tried reaching deep down to find that creative voice once again, but kept pulling up nothing – besides geek speak and facts.
Nonetheless, with absolute gratitude for each breakthrough, I stuck with it. Though challenging, I knew it was deep down there. I’d glimpsed it during my teenage years. A couple years ago, it resurfaced as a whisper and now I fully recognize that voice… and its getting louder.
“How do I hone my voice?” is always on the back of many writers’ minds. Expanding one’s vocabulary, finding one’s niche, and growing in one’s narrative style are questions you will continually have to keep answering as you develop as a writer. Not all successful writers have Masters degrees or PhDs in English or Creative Writing yet they found their voices somehow.
As you begin to write for various publications and resources, your style may change to suit their needs and audience, but your voice remains the same. Liken it to speaking a new language. Your true voice remains the same but the words you spew are very different.
Google, and you’ll be linked to thousands of resources out there that can help you grow. The only advice I can share is to stick with it and keep on writing.
Sooner or later, you will find your voice.