I hate my voice. I’m not talking about the quality of my voice—though I wish it were stronger so I wouldn’t have to repeat myself when ordering at drive-thru windows. I’d love for my voice to be deeper like a sultry Jessica Rabbit (but I don’t want to take up smoking)—instead, I’m about two octaves away from sounding full of helium—an exaggeration, but not much of one—anyway this isn’t what I’m talking about. The voice I’m referring to is my writing one.
In literary terms finding one’s voice is describing the author’s personal writing style. Each writer is supposed to develop their own special something that sets them apart. For instance, straightforward and short is very Ernest Hemingway. Winding and picturesque is very John Steinbeck. Me, I’m neither a Hemingway nor a Steinbeck I’m not even a slight hybrid—although most writers aren’t and I don’t want to be just a recreation of either author. I want to be uniquely me.
The problem is I have no idea what my style is. I know I’m sarcastic, caustic, and an all-around smart-ass. I’m self-depreciating and earnest, but what does that sound like on the page? I have no idea.
I also know that I’m very moody, which means my writing is in constant flux from self-pitying, and dark, all the way to the opposite end of the emotional scale, giddy and manic. But then, what writer isn’t?
A temperamental writer is stereotypical, right? I might as well have a drinking problem and live in France. The issue is that for an author to write a book and make money at it, they can’t live on that emotional gradient every day, all day long. Can they?
Most days I feel I write in circles. I attribute this to my ADHD—which again, who doesn’t have an attention deficit disorder of some kind or another? For that, I blame television commercials. Just when you’re right in the middle of a really great program—Bam! A Sensodyne Toothpaste commercial—attention span suicide. Generally, I hate commercials. I’d hate to be the person writing them.
While on the subject, whatever happened to commercial jingles? I mean, what happened to those cute little earworms?
Of course, there are still the classics such as “Gimme a break, gimme a break. Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.” But what happened to the age-old question of what would you do for a Klondike Bar? When was the last time a bully rewarded your beat-down with chocolate covered ice cream? See? Nobody is goaded for the right reasons anymore!
The worst commercials are perfume ones—who writes this stuff? And why? The worst of the worst is the Dior perfume ad starring Natalie Portman.
Picture the beautiful actress in a hotel room in the midst of a heated argument with some guy.
“I love you,” he yells. She spins around. “Prove it!”
Another shot has Portman running off the end of a pier or spinning out in a pink convertible on the beach. Sometimes, it seems, she sings seductively with her cheek pressed against a pole inside a subway train and other times she cries.
Whenever this ad comes on, I expect a voice over, “This is the face of Bipolar Disorder.” It would make more sense that it’s a public awareness ad rather than a perfume one.
At the end of the commercial, Portman looks directly into the camera and with a faintly tainted American accent (is it supposed to be French?) she says, “And you? What would you do for love?” Well, for starters, I’d probably begin a regiment of antipsychotics. And you?
Okay, I know I’ve just stated that my moods are all over the place. However, I am no Portman! My attitudes are gradual, not swinging. Still, my husband would say that I’m a real treat—did I mention, he’s pretty sarcastic, too?
Anyway, as I was saying, I hate my writing voice. It’s all over the place, disorganized, swirling, and abstract. But what can I say? So am I. I guess that everybody is to some extent. Who isn’t dashing from one thing, one idea, or one situation to the next? Who isn’t lacking in some respect when it comes to their career, or family, or lives in general? Isn’t life just that? Disorganized, swirling, and somewhat abstract? Isn’t it whatever we create it to be?
I don’t know. At least it gives me something to think about and grants me material to write about—even if that material comes out in a way that I hate.