Sunday, June 30, 2013

Your Voice Released

A block of stone. 

A blank canvas.

A clean sheet of paper.

What life is filled in such empty spaces! 
As writers—or artists—life brims from such untouched media. And once we dare to place our chisel on the stone, the brush to the canvas, the typed word to the paper, we begin to create the vision first developed in our hearts.

If you've ever walked the hall to the famous statue of David by Michelangelo, you first pass by his "Prisoners"--blocks of stone unleashing  human form in a dramatic, raw fashion.

Michelangelo once said, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to find it."

Photo of Michelangelo's Prisoner by Avital Pinnick on Flickr
 As if the bodies are emerging from the block, Michelangelo's imitation of man is whispered on the surface. Not completely finished, not refined nor perfected...but the art becomes a foreshadow of the greatness in what lies ahead—the near-perfect statue of David.

As writers, we often hear judges or editors mention the word, “voice”, and sometimes it seems like a tricky thing to attain in our efforts to craft a story well. If we look at voice in three stages, we might begin to discover the releasing of our own voices:

FIRST CUT: It's messy to cut into stone. Imagine the ugly divots and the shards of marble splayed upon the floor. But Michelangelo knew his direction--to set the statue free. He continued to chip away. Remember, in those beginning stages of a first draft the words might not come easy, but you must continue to write and rewrite, chip away at the blank stone, and release your voice through your unique story.

Photo at Wikimedia Commons
RE-CREATE: Most stories have something in common with other stories, life in general, or universal themes. If we are going to connect with our reader at all, we must have “familiar” in our stories. But don't let “familiar” trump “unique”. Michelangelo didn't create a new form, but used the God-given human form to create art. He sculpted the ordinary human body in a unique way.

Our voice is sculpting the human condition in a unique way.

LIFE: The voice of the writer breathes life into the blank page. It gives the story its pulse. When a writer has grasped their voice, their story becomes one to marvel at, just like Michelangelo's statues.
When your voice continues to grow, your story will fill with life.

Just as the statue of David is a vision the viewer will never forget, your finished manuscript will boldly declare its voice in the heart of your readers.

Have you discovered your “voice”?
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.


Bonnee Crawford said...

I love how there are such strong similarities between different forms of art, like that each of them incorporates the artist's voice. It is definitely important to find a voice when you write something, otherwise readers can't hear us.

Denise Covey said...

I've seen David in Florence, but I was also intrigued by those sculptures that were unfinished, or appeared to be.

Yes, we read a lot about voice and I think we have to write many thousands of words before our words ring true, but maybe it doesn't take others so long.

Whoopsies! Captcha Codes! I'll give it one go..

Denise - new follower.

Jill Weatherholt said...

The first writing contest I entered, I was told by the judge I had a "unique" voice. Of course, at the time, I didn't know what that meant! :) Wonderful post, Angie!

Unknown said...

What a cool way to look at voice, Angie. I think that's probably the hardest and possibly closest-to-impossible thing to teach when it comes to writing...but there's something magical about discovering your voice. I do think I've found mine, but it's constantly evolving. :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

This is so beautiful and insightful, Ang! Love your thoughts here today!

Ruth Douthitt said...

Love this post!! Mostly because I am an artist first and a writer second. That blank canvas is intimidating at first.

But if you know the medium...its strengths and weaknesses as Michaelangelo did...then you have more confidence.

Learn the strengths and weaknesses of writing.

Seeing the statue of David is on my bucket list! It gives me chills just looking at it. Sigh.

Pepper said...

Fantastic post, Ang.
It's such an elusive topic, but we know it when we hear it.
What a great description of it here.

Pepper said...

Welcome to The Alley, Denise!!

Ashley Clark said...

Angie, this is such a great way to look at voice! It really is a process, and I think it's easy to get discouraged when we forget that.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Wow, this was a great way to view that elusive quality of voice. Seriously, I love this and am bookmarking it for future use!