That voice...that coveted, unexplainable thing that makes story, is found when an author finds her self. We've all lived unauthentically. Trying to find our tastes. Trying to feel comfortable in our own shoes. Feeling uncomfortable after something we said, not because it was bad, nor stupid, but because it wasn't me.
And it's like going to the shoe store and finding the perfect pair of shoes. We often have to try on several pairs before we find the right shoe. That's why most authors have to write several books before the shoe fits.
First you try on a really high-heeled shoe because you're short and you'd love to be taller, if just for one night; but you walk around, wobble, even buy the shoe. You wear it out to your occasion but take it off after the first dance for obvious reasons. Then you see some cool, cool leather boots, try them on and they emphasize the size of your large knees. Oops. The selection, the trying on process, continues until you find the comfy loafers. Ahhhh. It's a fit. And you accept that you're a loafer girl.
This theory gelled when I read an interview of a young author whose hit series has brought her author success. In a NYT article, 6/17/2011, we read:
Throughout the tour, Hocking seemed surprisingly mature, comfortable in her own skin. Back in the car, she agreed, attributing this to her writing breakthrough, and to Goldman’s counsel, too. “When I stopped judging myself, that was actually a huge turning point in my whole personality. I realized that it’s O.K. to like things like ‘The Breakfast Club’ even though it’s not critically acclaimed. It’s O.K. to like the Muppets. I’d always been a closet lame person,” she said and laughed. “I think I became cooler when I stopped trying to be cool.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/magazine/amanda-hocking-storyseller.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&hp
It was also with the help of a friend that had the nerve to tell Hocking that she looked ridiculous in the pink fur go-go boots:
One day, Goldman intervened. “He just said: ‘These books you’re writing are not you. You’re forcing yourself. That’s not who you are. You’re a silly, fun person who likes silly, fun things. Stop trying to be a dark person.’ ” She paused. “I told him: ‘No, you’re an idiot. Those books are crap.’ ”
But she took his advice and started writing stuff that resonated more personally.
It’s a formula, however, that took a while for Hocking to concoct. She recalls a moment of truth around the time she was 21. “My whole life I would always read things like I write — lighter young-adult stuff. But I would also read stuff that was darker, like Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk, and that was the kind of stuff I would try to write. Because I was like, these books are good” — worthy, highbrow, of artistic value.She summed up the difference between her books and the likes of Vonnegut thus: “Theirs are not actually character-driven, they’re not books about people. People are just used to explain an idea. And my books are about people — who might happen to have ideas.”