I’m an organic writer using imagination and instincts. I owe this to my father asking me (ten years old) to recant his two favorite, weekly television programs (over by nine o’clock), when the steel mill put him on the night shift.
My memory and a fabrication of-who-what-where-why-and how gave me a storytelling foundation and a bond with Dad, who often asked for a story as we sat on the porch just passing time, or when he lay in the bed with the black lung cancer he caught from the mill. Our talks, his encouragement, and enjoyment of my made-up stores, is my glow and very much why I like to write fiction. When you’re ten years old, what you do know about form, structure, and plot? My stories wiped away long summer days of—what to do now—when the thick muggy air hindered walking a single inch.
Growing up in a small town, life is as simple as a double scoop of ice cream, visiting cousins, Saturday rides in the country, or staying at Grandma’s house.
Grandma, a wise woman, who at one time, the seventh oldest person in our state, had many printable stories about her down-home family, her life in the Depression, her children (Mom, my aunts, and uncle) . . . while cooking, or us just sitting in the yard drinking sun tea. My eyes and ears watching and listening, for example, to Grandma’s homespun wisdom (or gossip) about her loose cousin—“Nail your mailbox to the back door if you don’t want people to talk about you”—gave me a whole new outlook on red lipstick! Her storytelling voice in her own: who-what-where-when-and how, years later after she died, opened up a deep appreciation for writers like Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston. Their distinct voices pull you with stories about family and what it is for people getting up and getting around, making a name, making a living, and making a life for them and theirs.
I don’t think any amount of schooling can give a fiction writer their voice.
The richness of storytelling comes from listening, observing, perfecting your own rhythm, experiences, your family, life, and just getting up every day to let the air slap you in the face with a reality check.
The rule throughout my formative school years, taking music lessons (flute, clarinet, and oboe), and dance lessons (jazz and modern dance): Completion Cultivates Uniqueness. So I put my own spin on a note, a step—to grow and develop style and presentation. Individuality, the more I allowed, opened my imagination.
One of my mentors is Donna P., a profound teacher and writer with an array of former students like Janet Finch. Donna told me something I’ll never forget: “Anyone can write a sentence, but it takes imagination in your voice to make it worth reading.” Her continual praise of my writing gave validation I could move people with my stories.
While writing The Last Merry Go Round, I got knee-deep into my characters’ head and soul. Each scene filling with conversation, place, description, time, and purpose gave way to a keen telling of their story. My mission, is not just with this novel, but with all of them—tell a story, leave an impact, push boundaries, write something unforgettable.
I think every writer has a voice, some stronger than others, but none the less, their work needs to be read (support of each other is a must) and appreciated for its originality.
The enjoyment of a book, in this busy world, is a rarity. We, as fiction writers, owe our readers an E-Ticket Ride, using our voices to fly words off the page.
The more a writer opens their own eyes and travels with their imagination and instincts, I think, their writing will stand out and survive long after the last word is read. Case in point: Charles Dickens.
After all, to write and move people with words quenches their thirst, and that is, nothing short than brilliant storytelling—raising your voice above the crowd.