I opened my journal today (an electronic one, I am in I.T. after all) and one of the prompts that appeared in the application’s effort to get you writing was the first line of this post: “write the way you think.” I thought about that sentence for a while and decided that, even though it wasn’t a prompt in the strict sense of asking a question, or presenting a problem that needed to be solved, it was a worthwhile thing to talk about.
Because what happens with me is that I read other people’s writing and I covet it. I covet how they write, I covet what details they see and how they describe them, I covet even how their sentences come together, how they use punctuation, the gritty nuts and bolts of prose. It’s as if they are building from a different material than mine: I am the pig that builds his house with straw while my brothers build with wood and stone. This is the feeling that what I write can never be as good as their writing. This same feeling is experienced when I go to a bookstore and see the myriad multitudes of books on the shelves. Look at all those published authors! It’s obvious that they are better than you; their books are bound and for sale and include favorable soundbites on the back cover from other published authors!
This envious mind also springs from my dislike of my own writing style, which was nursed and brought to health by my lower than average self esteem growing up. I wonder if other writers do what I do: you lean back from your chair, read over what you wrote, and are struck with the immediate and desperate urge to print it out just so you can lash the pages to a stone and cast them into the deepest lake where they sink to the lowest depths, never to be seen again.
But then back to this idea. Write the way you think. I need to recognize that I have a voice, and that I’ll never have a voice like the other people I read and fawn over: David Foster Wallace, the guy who writes the Delicious Tacos blog, even my friend C. My voice can be honed through practice. Also, the more I read, the more that voice takes on certain flavors of other writers. However, like a chameleon changes colors to blend with its surroundings but always remains a chameleon, my voice will always be discernable through the influences, through the practice of the art.
So my voice will remain. And I need to embrace it and love it as my own. No one else will care for it. It’s funny how to love your voice is ultimately to love yourself. And vice versa. Embracing your voice then is a therapeutic act, an act of self-love. Have you hugged your voice today?
Write the way you think.