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Saturday, 15 August 2009

Be Yourself - It Suits You Better

This advice was given to me once. It was personal advice and nothing to do with writing. I may not have always adhered to its wisdom, but I have remembered it and always will.

It can certainly be applied to writing. Don't try to write in the style of any other author. You won't be paying them a tribute. You will be copying them. You will be ignoring your own voice. Don't. Listen to it. There is no one else like you.

I loathe it when people learn for the first time that I write. Invariably they say excitedly that perhaps I shall be the next Jilly Cooper or JK Rowling or Maeve Binchy. No, I shan't. I don't want to be other people. If I did, there wouldn't be much point in being me, would there?

I admire the authors I have mentioned, and many more, but I can only be myself. That means my work will be liked by some, but not by all. Plenty of famous authors are not universally admired, but that doesn't matter. They have succeeded in becoming writers. That's what counts. But the success would not have come if they had written using the voice of someone else.

When you talk to people, use your own voice. Don't put on a different accent or adopt a vocbulary you wouldn't normally use. I used to accuse my father of having a 'telephone voice'. He always spoke beautifully, but he used a special aristocratic accent on the telephone! It infuriated me, because there was no need! And it didn't suit him at all.

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