Monday, June 22, 2009

Be Yourself

“ One stumbling block for beginning writers is that they mistakenly hold back from being completely honest, completely themselves, because they think it’s safer to adopt styles and sensibilities that “editor types” will like.” – Mary Yukari Waters in “Writer Advice from Mary Yukari Waters".
This complements a post from last week. I stated then that I'd tried writing in someone else's style in an attempt to get published and that it didn't work. Here's my new credo. Writing in my own style -- once I figure out exactly what that is -- will make my works stand out.

A few years ago, after reading past columns, I volunteered to write database reviews for a professional library journal. The reviews described the content of the database (usually on CD-ROM at that time), how to install the software, and the options for searching the database. The writing was drab, stuffy, and ... well ... scholarly. Besides the boring writing style, the articles lacked thoroughness. There was no mention of problems encountered or idiosyncrasies with the search results, the things I'd like to know before spending money on the product. I sent in my first review following the outline provided by the editor, plus my own positive and negative assessments, using what I hoped was a more engaging writing style. The editor published the review in the next issue of the journal and sent me another database for comments. Interestingly, he never said anything specific about the first article.

Sorry, but I must brag a little here. After my first review came out, most of the subsequent reviews in the journal also included pluses and minuses and were easier to read. There was a lesson in this that I’d forgotten until recently. It’s good to stand out, to take a risk. It’s what sets my article or story apart from the rest. Of course, I also have to keep in mind that the farther away from "normal" I get, the tougher it may be to find an editor willing to take a chance on my writing.

1 comment:

Ana V. Rios said...

I totally agree that one must write in one's own voice because this is who we are. When we try to imitate someone else's style, it does not sound true. I hope is that our style is good enough to catch an editor's eye and get published.