Facing the illusion of a ‘unique’ writing voice

“Mine.” The word pervaded my childhood home, courtesy of an ever-important exchange: “Mom! (Insert name of sister) stole my (insert name of plaything I suddenly deemed precious in the unfathomable event of abduction)!”

Growing up in the forever-unfair realm of sisterly sharing, I developed a keen awareness of ownership at an early age. And maybe, a little stubbornness accompanied it. Maybe.

Though I long ago bid farewell to the days of sharing Birthday Barbie — a then-unthinkable horror — I find myself struggling to relinquish ownership of my writing voice. In particular, I still have a difficult time admitting my ‘voice’ is merely a compilation of experiences, events, interactions and ultimately, other voices.

As a life writer, I’ve long felt the need and right to defend my ‘voice.’ For a long time, that meant resisting edits, revisions and suggestions. “But I’m more unique than you!” I longed to proclaim, but settled instead for a subtle eye-roll at far too many valuable ideas from insightful writers.

After a friendship abruptly ended earlier this year, though, I detected an immediate change in my ‘voice.’ A sharp, biting cynicism emerged, sometimes overpowering the ‘Taylor-trademark’ tone that preceded it. It frightened me.

In that sudden shift, I finally faced a fact I had known all along: My ‘voice’ — much like Birthday Barbie — was never only mine.

Though I’m sometimes still tempted to proclaim, “but I’m unique,” I’ve developed gratitude and appreciation for the voices that have impacted, shaped and molded my writing.

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