HI 82 / LO 51
Anyone who has seen the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” knows exactly what that phrase means. It’s the moment Tiffany reveals herself, even though she doesn’t realize it. She had written those words in a letter to Pat, pretending the letter was from his ex-wife. But later, in an argument with Pat, she throws that exact same phrase at him: “If it’s me reading the signs!” And he fires back, “If it’s you reading the signs!”
What gave Tiffany away? A little thing called voice.
When writers are starting out, they struggle to find their voice. Sometimes they try on the voices of other writers they admire, and there’s nothing wrong with that being part of the process. But basically, you have to write your way into voice. You know it when you see it.
I work for a magazine, I can usually tell within one paragraph who’s written a particular piece, if it’s coming from one of our regular writers. Because everyone sounds different than everyone else. Everyone has their particular quirks, their particular style, maybe even a particular phrase. It’s what sets a professional writer apart from a newbie. Too often, newbies sound alike. I suspect it’s because so much writing in school these days is centered around learning to write well for a standardized test. What scores well on the SAT would never be featured on HuffPo. Or even your local daily newspaper.
I bring up voice because one of my friends has a distinctive writing voice. And recently, she gave herself away, just like Tiffany in Silver Linings.
My friend is behind what I call The Great Card Conspiracy, in which she organized a bunch of friends to send me cards, each with the exact same positive, you-go-girl (in Christ) kind of message. I didn’t know who was behind this conspiracy, until this friend used the exact same phrase in a FB message the other day.
(In case you’re wondering, my dear, it was “you have God in your veins, pulsing” vs. “you have the Lord Most High pulsing through your veins.”)
So, veins, pulsing, love of God—that’s the voice of Amanda, to whom I wish much joy, especially today.