Finding your Writing Voice

Margaret McCaffrey  -  December 8 2017

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Miles Davis once said: “You have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” For me this is true in writing. It has taken me a long time to write like myself. In other words, to find my voice. But once small glimmers of voice appear, it is the beginning of an exciting voyage.

Writer, Lee Kofman, teaches that ‘the universal is in the particular.’

In her workshop recently I discovered that the image of my father wearing his pajamas down the street to the shops in the 1960s gave the reader a unique visual image of who he was, and of other crusty men like him. Once I’d got comfortable with that scene, I went on to make the connection between my own propensity for staying in my dressing gown all day if I can, and his costume insouciance. From here I had the makings of a short father-daughter story.

Lee asked me for the particulars, because everyone, she says, can identify with eccentricity. I’d found an image and hence my means of expression. In other words, the voice to tell the story it came naturally.

To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, the writers job is to look for the ‘universal thread’ that connects us all.

My advice to memoirists? Keep writing. Keep searching for that special scene or image that is unique to you. The voice to describe it will soon come.

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