An article by Kate Rew in Mslexia sent me scuttling off to explore my writing for something that I had not thought about before. 'Find your voice' was Rew's review of a writing holiday (I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky) with the novelist Susan Elderkin and her search for her writer's voice. Deposited on a Greek island she undertakes various exercises to find a voice that was right, and one that encompassed style and genre. I had never thought of this and had blindly pressed on with a confidence in my own voice that I probably had no right to possess.
I once moaned to a friend that I felt I had no style in the clothes department. I have always admired those who could sling on their Marks and Spencers ensembles with a casualness that defied me. Happy to mix an expensive skirt with a jacket from a charity shop, my friend insisted that I did have style, and it was all my own. I could have taken this one of two ways but as Trinny and Susannah have so far failed to turn up on the doorstep, I have stuck to the theory that I do have some sense of style in there somewhere. I also think that I have applied this 'theory' to my writing.
We all have to start somewhere and I have often thought that a useful tool for the fledgling writer would be to take a sneaky peek at the first drafts of our greatest writers. Darley Anderson credits himself with 'finding' Sheila Quigley and cashed in on the story of the grandmother from the Homelands Estate in Sunderland. However, Sheila was like all of us, she went through rejection after rejection and looks back at her early work with a shiver of bad grammar and punctuation. Only when she hit upon the idea for 'Run for Home' did she truly find a style and voice that shouted above others.
In the beginning I remember thinking that I could only write science fantasy as this was where I felt confident and here my voice was strong. Advice, exercise and plodding through some dire creative writing course showed me otherwise. I did have a voice, I could take it wherever it needed to be and sometimes it was a loud, shouty voice that was really rather good.
One of my favourite saying is 'the day you stop learning is the day you start dying' and I take this very seriously. I hope my 'voice' is gaining strength with each new piece I write and that my ignorant beginnings have become part of this long road to where I eventually want to be. And if no one is listening then I will just have to shout a bit louder!