Inside A Huddle – Developing Your Writer’s Voice

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AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Guardian
Full Member
May 19, 2014
London UK
You may have wondered what exactly happens inside our weekly Huddles. Sometimes, I wonder that, too.

Excogitate no more. By kind permission of the participants of last week’s Huddle, we recorded the first 30 minutes or so, shown below. Please add your thoughts to the discussion.

 
Had to leave halfway through this so it was nice to be able to catch the rest. Thanks.
As a life-long artist, my immediate thoughts went to how experts can identify unsigned paintings by famous artists, just by studying the brushstrokes. Which is voice. I defy anyone to be able to fake a Frank Auerbach, for instance.
And nice to hear I have a fellow artist in Eva. Hope she does post some up. xx
 
Yup.
My degree was Fine Art and Creative Writing.
I particularly loved working in the print room.
Xxxx
Could you not put some of your work on Litopia too? There are other Litopians who paint and do graphics, maybe we could have a sort of art room here in Litopia. Where could we display some of our stuff @AgentPete - on this thread- make a thread in cafè life- or maybe we could have a "laboratory" where we can also develop book cover graphics- did lot of those at art school.
 
Could you not put some of your work on Litopia too? There are other Litopians who paint and do graphics, maybe we could have a sort of art room here in Litopia. Where could we display some of our stuff @AgentPete - on this thread- make a thread in cafè life- or maybe we could have a "laboratory" where we can also develop book cover graphics- did lot of those at art school.
Book cover graphics sounds a neat idea.
 
Thanks so much for posting this Huddle bite. Great discussion re voice. I'm also an art school grad where they encouraged us to find our voice. Of course, while you're in school and absorbing the works of so many amazing artists and writers, you do tend to copy your faves on your way to discovering your own. One of my photography teachers, Vilm Kriz, was this mind-blowing surrealist and about 90 years young at the time. He'd constantly tell us "your voice is in there - don't be afraid to use it".
 
I’ve been pondering this. (Btw, even more fascinating watching third time around).

Would it be fair to say, decisions on what to include in your plot are the “how you are”?
And decisions on word choice, word placement and the way you evoke emotions are the “who you are”?

Which would mean, for the latter, to gain the intuitiveness an author needs, you should read and study other authors as much as possible? Does that sound like something we should do to help find our voice? Or am I reading too much into everything?
 
I’ve been pondering this. (Btw, even more fascinating watching third time around).

Would it be fair to say, decisions on what to include in your plot are the “how you are”?
And decisions on word choice, word placement and the way you evoke emotions are the “who you are”?

Which would mean, for the latter, to gain the intuitiveness an author needs, you should read and study other authors as much as possible? Does that sound like something we should do to help find our voice? Or am I reading too much into everything?
I'd say, yes, read and study other, and a wide range of, authors as much as possible, but don't copy them. Be yourself. The way to be yourself is to write as much as possible. When you admire an author a lot, it's hard not to copy them in writing you do straight after reading them (and good fun to do it on purpose in a short piece), but if you leave the writing a while then go back to it, you think "this is not me". Then it's good to re-write it, or attempt to, in your own voice.
 
I’ve been pondering this. (Btw, even more fascinating watching third time around).
Thx :)

Would it be fair to say, decisions on what to include in your plot are the “how you are”?
And decisions on word choice, word placement and the way you evoke emotions are the “who you are”?
Probably, but I’m reluctant to lay down the law here. So much is up to the individual.

Which would mean, for the latter, to gain the intuitiveness an author needs, you should read and study other authors as much as possible? Does that sound like something we should do to help find our voice? Or am I reading too much into everything?
I’m definitely in favour of reading “with a purpose”, e.g. I find myself mentally watching for moments of voice and then dissecting/examining what I find in relation to the author’s own journey. I typically read one author at a time, often from the start of their writing career onwards, and it is indeed quite possible to see how the author’s voice asserts itself over time, often from absolutely nothing at all. Hemingway and PG Wodehouse are two recent authorial reads; neither were born at all “fully formed”, they both clearly had to work very hard to become the distinctive voices they later manifested, and in both cases, a lot of the work consisted in paring down, removing everything but the essentials. I seriously doubt whether either would be read at all today if they hadn’t gone through this demanding process. Quite fascinating.

But as per above, I’m reluctant to say “read lots of books in order to acquire voice”. I know writers who deliberately avoid reading anything else vaguely in their own genres, and they’re better/more creative writers for it. Discovering voice is at least as much of an inner journey as an external one.
 
I missed last week so that was a great catch up. Fascinating stuff about voice from Pete. Thank you.
The one thing that is missing from the clip that could encourage those who do not Huddle would be a writer, or writers, getting feedback from a piece of submitted work.
 
Not quite the same thing but one of my favourite word jokes is from Alan Partridge.

When he says: 'I don't want to be infa-muss. I want to be... fa-muss.'

I had to write it phonetically to get the delivery right. Cracked me up on first hearing. Still makes me grin.
 
And this. When you have to write.. Facebook.
Agnes Richter (1844-1918): The Jacket
Agnes Richter was a German seamstress held as a patient in an insane asylum during the 1890s. During her time there, she densely embroidered her straightjacket with words, undecipherable phrases and drawings which documented her thoughts and feelings throughout her time there. Through the script she transcribed herself into time, space and place. Her writing orients and disorients. Made in 1895, it is a standard issue uniform given to mental patients at the time. Richter has embroidered so intensively that reading impossible in certain areas of the garment. Words appear and disappear into seams and under layers of thread. There is no beginning or end, just spirals of intersecting fragmentary narratives. She is declarative: “I”, “mine”, “my jacket”, “my white stockings…., “I am in the Hubertusburg / ground floor”, “children”, “sister” and “cook”. In the inside she has written “1894 I am / I today woman”. She has also re-embroidered the laundry number printed on her jacket “ 583 Hubertusburg”, almost transforming something institutional and distant into something intimate, obsessive and possessive. It is a compelling piece of hypertext and untamed writing
 
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