Tag Archives: personal essay

Writing Wednesday: Impersonating My Voice

16 Feb

I dress according to my mood.  I don’t mean I just dress for the occasion; I mean my style itself is subject to whim.  On Monday I could fit into the category of preppy but by Thursday I could be mistaken as a hipster.

Is it any surprise, then, that one of my biggest writing frustrations is finding my voice?  It seems absurd that one would need to find her writing “voice.”  Isn’t voice something inherent?

Yes, and no.

The Million’s recent interview between novelist Bill Morris (Motor City, All Soul’s Day) and personal essayist Carl H. Klaus, author of the new book The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay, confirmed my thoughts on voice.  In the article, “When We Aspire to Write Like Ourselves,” Klaus discusses the “fluid nature of the self,” and says,

To think that I could in fact create a style that was an echo of such a multi-sided thing as the self – that’s simply a cuckoo notion.

I feel vindicated.  Critics have been saying for years to beware of the constructed identities of authors.  However, it’s refreshing to consider the author’s struggle in creating a portrait of self.  While, writers may acknowledge creating a personae—a “character”—of themselves, either out of convenience or agenda, there seems to be less talk about the struggle of figuring out who their “character” is.

I certainly have a perspective that is uniquely my own, but depending on the subject matter, my feelings toward it, and whom I suspect will read my work, my tone, diction, and style shift.  I’ve feared that this might be a sign of immaturity, but I really do feel that who I am and how I write ebbs and flows.  I will admit there is a predominant voice to most of my personal essay writing, but I don’t think that is my only voice.

If I am to present the most accurate portrayal of myself, how can I limit my voice?