Write Your Heart Out

image from stock.xchng.comI have been thinking about my mother a bit of late, probably because Mother’s Day is not so long past us, but also I’ve been thinking of her in terms of my writing and how she is the one person I really have to thank for making me the writer I am today.

I’ve always wanted to write. In fact, ever since I learned to form letters with a pencil, I’ve been writing down stories. Most of my early works were very much clones of whatever author I happened to be reading at the time. As is the case with many young writers, I copied the voices of the writers I admired while I was searching for my own voice.

In my earliest writing days, that meant I was emulating Enid Blyton, Jack London, Anna Sewell and the like. Then, in my teens, I emulated Elyne Mitchell (The Silver Brumby), Nancy Cato (All the Rivers Run) and moved on as my reading tastes expanded.

For a short time, I tried my hand at writing regency romance as my writing heroines then were Barbara Cartland, and Georgette Heyer.

Of course, everything I wrote, I showed to my mother and she, bless her, read every word. I remember handing her my latest piece of Regency Regurgitation one afternoon, which she duly read, and then, looking over her reading glasses at me, she said. “Why’re you writing about Lords and Ladies in England? You live in Australia, where there’s hardly a ‘luddship’ to be seen, but you’re writing this? It’s not you!”

I was stunned. I didn’t know how to answer, and couldn’t think of a single reason for why I was writing that. It got me to thinking, and that is never a bad thing for a writer. I started to reexamine what I wanted from writing, I started to read articles and books about writing, and to look for ways of putting me into my work. Not as a character, mind you (no Mary Sues here!) but I wanted to express my own voice in what I wrote. I wanted to express my own personality.

It took a while, and I had to work at it, but now I feel I have found a voice for my writing that is authentic, that is me. I’m still evolving as a writer, and probably always will be, but that’s half the fun of it anyway.

About megleigh

When not busy writing, Meg Leigh spends her time tending to the most pampered flock of chickens on Australia’s east coast. She would really like to have dragons, but has settled for chickens because they come pretty close. If you need proof of this, try offering a flock of chickens raw meat! (Meg would like to advise she accepts no liability for loss of fingers!) Meg also enjoys reading, keeping fit with her bunch of madcap mates at the local park, and spending time with her adult offspring whenever their schedules allow.
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3 Responses to Write Your Heart Out

  1. Angie says:

    You know, I see where your mom was coming from, but the whole “Write you!” thing is just a first cousin of “Write what you know,” which has always been a bit dodgy. I mean, if everyone did that, no one but Ian Fleming and Ernest Hemingway and people like that would ever write adventure type stories. And no one at all would write science fiction or fantasy.

    If you could imagine yourself making your debut in Regency London, if that setting spoke to you for some reason, resonated with who you are, then you were writing “you.” Or you could have been, I don’t know. But being true to yourself as a writer has very little to do with setting or genre; it’s more about your personality, your values, your world-view. You can be true to those in any genre, any setting.

    Angie

    • megleigh says:

      I agree, but I think my mother had picked up on the fact that what I was writing was a story by me told in Barbara Cartland’s voice, if that makes sense?

      I don’t adhere to ‘write what you know’ so much as I adhere to write what you love. I think if a writer pours his or her heart into whatever she is writing then that will ring true and people will connect with it, which is what I think my mum was trying to say. I was writing regency in an attempt to get published, not because that’s what I love to write.

      It was when I started writing heroes and heroines that I could personally identify with in some way that the publishing contracts started to arrive.

  2. Angie says:

    what I was writing was a story by me told in Barbara Cartland’s voice

    Sure, that makes sense. [nod] And that’s definitely an issue. I think most baby writers start out writing in someone else’s voice, usually whoever their favorite writer at the time is. 🙂 Half the work of developing as a writer is figuring out your own voice, or a few you can use under different circumstances which are still all “you.”

    Angie

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