Wednesday, May 2, 2012

IWSG: Self Trust and Voice

Last week I wrote about self trust at the end of a post and I thought I would elaborate on my own issues with self trust here for the support group.  I think that most folks who have met me in person would agree that I exude confidence.  I'm kind, charismatic, and gentle which I guess in a soldier is a good combination.  However, I'm actually insecure about something that most wouldn't guess, and that is my voice in writing.

Obviously, I don't have an issue with speaking my mind.  I'm willingly opening myself up to people criticizing my thoughts concerning abortion, politics, and black culture.  I welcome that.  It doesn't bother me if you don't agree with me.  What worries me is that I come across saying what I really want to say.  That isn't an issue of simply word choice, but the tone and voice of my writing.

Blogging for me is an exercise in learning to self validate.  Often my writing when I blog is quite raw.  It hasn't gone through multiple different people.  It has seen my wife and sometimes our adopted son.  But it hasn't gone to them for proofreading or to help me fix problems.  Instead it has been about validating my writing for me.  And that's not fair to them.  I need to be able to self validate and trust that what I put down is good enough.  But I bet there is someone else out there like me who suffers from the same fear of not being good enough.

So here is my advice to those of you who share my fear.  Write inside your own comfort zone.  My comfort zone is a unique one, I feel most comfortable talking about issues that are particularly controversial in society.  I realize that I have good things to say about them.  And that because of my own experiences that I have an education there that other lack.  So I focus on those things because for me, I am most comfortable there.  And it gives me an opportunity to exercise my voice and learn about how I write and how I express myself.  Both of which are crucial for any young writer to learn about.

But once you have found your comfort zone, push the envelope of your abilities.  You do not learn to walk without failure, and you will not learn how to write without failure.  As I grow in my abilities and my education I hope to work towards making this more culturally friendly as a blog.  I want to be able to speak about issues that the LBGT community, Asians, and the Native Americans face.  I might have someone comment and tell me that everything I'm writing is garbage, and inform me as to what the real deal is on a subject.  And guess what, that's okay!  Because I'm comfortable with failure in my journey.  Because I don't learn the most from my successes, but rather from my failures.

Soon I'll have a new comfort zone and I'll have to reach further to search out excellence.  I want to the same thing in literature.  I recently read a post from Nora Jemisin on RaceFail, and I realized that I'm coming into writing at a good time.  When I was younger I wanted to just write a story about an African American Hero in Science Fiction & Fantasy, but now my views have expanded to want to see Heroes and Heroines of color throughout SFF.  I think I'm a decent writer, but while I am bringing my skills up to the level that someone will choose to publish my work, I'm going to focus on other cultures and religions and bring them to light.  But again I cannot do any of this if I lack confidence in my voice.

So I leave you my fellow writers with a challenge.  Start writing within your comfort zone.  And as soon as you think you have a grasp on your voice, start pushing the envelope.  Don't sit back and think you are good as is.  Develop the healthy mindset that you are always seeking out the next peak of performance.  Writing is a journey that has potential to never end.  Look at Frank and Brian Herbert, their journey in writing has already spanned two generations.  There is no limit to what we can do as writers if we will work towards touching the stars.

If you are struggling with your voice, that's okay.  But it isn't okay to give up.  Sit down in your chair and write.  Something, anything.  One word or a thousand.  Because for each word you put down you forge the voice within you.  And after you have forged the edge of your own voice, you'll find the battle towards becoming a paid author one that you can tackle with the grace of a ballerina.

That's all I got for today.  Stay tuned for the end of the week when I tackle my first interview.  I'm Jayrod Garrett, and I'm the First OG.  And naturally I have a question for you:

What do you want to do with your voice?

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