I had so much interest in responding to Kim’s weblog and her thoughts on voice I thought I would post the response:
I have relaxed so much on voice and even stealing. I have been reading Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and Singing from the Well by Arenas and I am stealing. I am not plagiarizing but I am stealing. I like the idea of stealing and not borrowing, meaning I allow myself to follow their scene and summary pattern like following a specific outline–I give them to my students in Comp and they write better more organized papers. So I tell myself I will write this many words of summary and this many words of scene. It helps me–and I bring my own worlds to that outline.
As for voice, I really have relaxed on that too. I tell myself to just tell the story in a simple way–I call it free writing or whatever–but it helps me get it down. I feel I have allowed myself to fail–allowed myself to create something to hack away at. Also David Keplinger asked me specifically who I wrote to. I had no idea what he was meaning. And then he asked again, who do you write to? Like I am writing a letter or a note to somebody and that was exactly what he meant. He told me he imagined writing to whomever he was dating at the time–or a cousin on the phone he hadn’t spoken to in a long time who he really wanted to understand. I keep that in mind and just allow myself to tell it–like I’m talking to you or D in a coffee shop and really want you to empathize with the old neighborhood or Lolo. I think that is important–we allow ourselves to just tell it before we get into higher thoughts of rhetoric or intent.