The Day I Lost My Writer’s Voice
Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago, other times it feels like only yesterday, but there was a traumatic period in my writing career when I lost it all — everything I had known and strived for. You see, I was on a path that was taking me in one direction, writing for children, but then one day it all just looped backward on itself and I lost the writer’s voice.
At one time I was certain that writing for young adults was going to take me exactly where I wanted to go, where I felt destined to go, where I was confident and comfortable going. I felt happy writing for the young adult market. I studied as much as I could about the genre and repeatedly practiced and re-wrote manuscripts with help from a mentor and a very successful freelance editor. I spent a decade going over these manuscripts with a fine-tooth comb eventually going back to school to get a Masters's in Creative Writing so that I could grow and learn even more. I was determined to make a career out of something I felt led to, felt supported in, and found ease with. I was developing a comfortable confident writer’s voice. Things were good. Until one day…
The bottom dropped out from under me and I could no longer find the writer’s voice. Gone! Poof! Just like that! There was a period of intense uncertainty, confusion, even desperation. I was depressed and lonely. I began to grieve for the lost self. I moved and tried writing in a new house, but I found it to be painful and slow going. All the words and the ideas that I used to have had abruptly stopped. I was undiscovered, struggling to find an agent, and coming undone at the thought that I had let myself down. But I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. After all, writing was something that defined me.
I unpacked the writing journals and burned them. I went shopping. I bought a lot of new shoes. I watched TV, took long walks, and cried. I was newly divorced and living without the comfort of anything familiar. Never had I felt so alone. My children were grown, living on their own, and there was nothing to do but look in the mirror and face the truth. The writer was dead.
Or was she? I look back on this remarkable transitional period of my life when I let go of this part of myself and shifted to become a non-genre specific writer with my own thoughts and ideas about how I wanted to create, how I wanted to share what I created, and how I really wanted to help other creatives find a way through their own struggles. We shouldn’t be confined to a box, but this is where we’re cramming creativity — inside an easily packaged programmed container where creativity is, well, contained. I’m glad I stuck with my Truth. Although it was painful, I would continue to look again and again in that mirror to see if I could find the writer once more. Was she still in me? She had to be. Each time I revisited writing I took the difficult step forward to find my new authentic writer’s voice. I began to write without expectation. I listened to my inner voice which said, “Just write.” And so I did.
I lost a huge part of myself the day I lost my writer’s voice, but over time I have made so many discoveries about her. She is still here, tenacious, fearless, committed, extroverted, joyous, authentic, and at-ease. And I feel fortunate that I get to know her this way in all her strength.