Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finding Your Voice

I've been thinking a lot about this book I plan to write, and have written some beginning drafts of an introduction and the first chapter. Lately however, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the general shape of the book and have begun a rough outline. It will include some general writing about suffering, using many of the resources I've already posted on my blog, along with others that have been especially meaningful for me. Along with that will be some of my personal story, a brief memoir of sorts about certain parts of my life. "Write what you know," right?

I'm trying to figure out what my voice will be like though. In the books I've read about suffering and "Christian Living," I find that they run the gamut from dryly intellectual to uncomfortably personal. I like the intellectual rigor of Lewis, and the honesty of Elisabeth Elliot, and would hope to incorporate some of both. I so enjoy the writing of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen too and would like to be inspired by them. I don't like many Christian books that have been published that feel like a formulaic "how to" book, filled with charmy writing that feels like you're talking with someone in a coffee shop--a little too chummy is the best way to describe how I feel about them. I'd want my book to be approachable and not stuffy, without feeling too familiar.

Anne Lamott's writing is honest and feels true. I would want my book to incorporate that as well, though I don't feel that it needs to be so "rawly" honest. I find her writing refreshing in that regard, but I don't want to emulate that part of her writing.

I think we find our voice by tapping into all that we've ever read, filtered through our own experience and personal aesthetic sensibility. That's what I do with my trombone playing, and I would imagine it will work for writing a book too. I suppose I have a "voice" on my blog, but I just write and don't think about it, though perhaps that's what you're supposed to do when you decide to tackle writing a book. I am finding that as I sit and write with the mindset of writing a book, a whole different part of my brain comes into play than when I just sit down and write here in my blog. It's somewhat fascinating for me to figure out what's going on with that. I think the more I can approach the flow and ease with which I approach churning out words on my blog, the better my first draft will be.

As to finding a voice, I'd like some suggestions, or a list of some of your favorite Christian authors, or people whose voice you really admire and desire to emulate yourself.

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