My Voice (Or Why I’m Still Stuck In High School)

More than anything, I use writing to stand out.  Starting in middle school, I loved pushing the boundaries and seeing how my teachers reacted to my essays.  Did he really just say that?  (There’s a fine line between being innovative and being vulgar in seventh grade.  I walked it beautifully.)  The encouragement of classmates crafted the “voice” I have today.

In lecture, something you said struck me.  I didn’t know my voice.  I mean I knew it, but only based off of a process of elimination.  I could only tell you what actually isn’t my voice rather than what is.  For the past seven years I thought I knew myself in terms of writing.  I like sentence fragments, I like parentheses, I like italics.  But these components can’t possibly make up the whole.

I never considered that I write about the same topics over and over again until I considered it.  (Ignorance is bliss.)  I almost always refer back to my sexuality and the childhood I had while growing up gay in a small town.  My entire project might even be about that to some degree.  Over the summer I wrote a personal blog post about it and my reflective narrative in English 124 was about being gay.  Even my admissions essay was about my sexuality.  One of the aspects of my writing that really makes it so apparently me is that it’s, well, really gay.

Zooming in a little past themes, I found the personality to be the easiest part.  I’m sarcastic, witty, snarky, sometimes insightful, and above all unorthodox.  I try to make my writing as realistic as possible in terms of voice.  I want to make sure that everything I write is something I would not only write, but also say.

The unorthodox qualities of my writing festered senior year of high school.  I knew I could write prior but this one English class really turned my voice up five notches.  We were required to write four papers we would speak aloud and not turn in. Yo’d receive an automatic A.  This gave students the most freedom they ever had in an English class.  No pressure to impress and finally a venue in which they could be honest and themselves without fear of a failed assignment.  It was really moving experience for a lot of students.  With these four pieces, I was given the opportunity to write over and over again as if I was speaking and it got to the point that my writing voice and speaking voice sort of fused.

This process of writing as if I was speaking unearthed a dozen formal markers that helped fine tune my voice.  The parentheses I tend to add make it seem as if I’m pausing, thinking, correcting myself.  The sentence fragments, in my opinion, make the writing more real.  It almost fast forwards the information, chopping it up into little bite size pieces.  Name one person who speaks entirely in beautifully crafted long sentences.  The italics I add force you to read what I’m writing in a specific way, as if you’re hearing me read aloud with you.  I like challenging myself, I like challenging the reader, I like saying a big “fuck you” to every grammar rule I’ve ever learned.  No one speaks perfect grammar, why should great literature do the same?

Leave a Reply