Friday, April 8, 2011

Lost, Presumed Eaten By Coyotes: A Literary Voice

  The exciting thing about telling story is the way it lures you in by seeming so simple and direct a process at first, causing you to believe how you, too, with a little effort, can do it.

Soon, the honeymoon is over; you remain buoyed with romantic aftertaste, pleased to have made the commitment, but aware as well that you have only begun a journey where one thing is certain:  you have no idea of the destination.  To be sure, you have dreams about such things as venturing into something original or, failing that, becoming a force that affects untold numbers of readers.  Perhaps your dreams are more modest in scale, such as gaining proficiency in some category such as humor or tragedy; failing in those except on rare occasion, perhaps as an interesting educator.

Growing about you in stacks are the works of men and women, some of them young enough to be your children, others only a tad older than you, in each case with bodies of work.  Ah, there it is, the magic:  bodies of work.  Not one or two things,bodies of them.  From body it is easy to make the jump to ghost, thus instead of bodies of work to represent you, there are ghosts wanting things of you, wanting you to go back to undo egregious error whether of fact or deed or application, so that they might have some rest and stop haunting you.  Sometimes ghosts have vengeance at heart, wanting to exact something from someone, perhaps even you.

In some ways, because of the whimsical manner in which you were drawn into the other side of publishing,the editorial side, in which it was your work to help others extend the true timbre and resonance of their voice, editing had the same adventurous pull, causing you to think, why not, you'd be learning things to help your own storytelling.  Then, before you knew it, the editing experience conspired to get you one teaching job after another.

Now, perhaps because you are in between projects, still in a real sense at play with choices beckoning you, you are aware of the incredible number of individuals who present themselves as editorial and publishing consultants, in some cases even as writing coaches.  You are some steps away from being cynical about it, from day to day varying your stand about MFA programs in creative writing, even wondering what creative writing is as opposed to uncreative writing.  You toy with the idea of ordering business cards in which you are advertised as a literary voice coach or perhaps a literary detective,specializing in helping your clients locate lost or missing voices.

The best detective force in the world for locating a voice is a completed manuscript.

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