Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Voice is Like a Snowflake

Pictures provided by: SnowCrystals.com

We've talked about how much snow and cold weather has affected our lives this week. Cheryl gave a comical view of her adventures. Jean tasked us to answer questions about our Christmas experience. Many of you chimed in. After gift-giving and partying with family, apparently snow, however pretty it makes the landscape, doesn't appeal to all. This is what makes my sojourn under the Tulip Tree so appealing, friends! I enjoy the many different ways the four of us look at life. No way is right or wrong. We value each other's strengths and weaknesses as well as the things that individualize us. That's the southern way. That’s the way things are at Okay, Listen Here, and I’m so thankful for it.

Though not quite as humorous as Cheryl’s trials, here’s my take on our snowy adventures of late (which have not seen our area since 1966). I’m drawn to the mystical matter that is snow. Like human fingerprints, no two crystals are alike. Snow starts in liquid form, whereas the human body is 90% water. Snow is dependent upon freezing temperatures. The human body must have a temperature of 98.6 degrees in order to function properly. Individual, yet similar. Complicated and unexplainable, writers (people), and snow, have much in common, deserving healthy respect.

As I gazed upon the glistening white surface around me on my way to work today, I thought about the many trillions of snow crystals covering the landscape. No two are alike. But many are needed in order to create the effect. Can the same be said for writers? For books?

You see, though it is said there aren’t any new stories out there, the way a story is told through an individual writer’s skill can spark a consciousness untapped. Look at the way J.K. Rowling galvanized readers, most notably this younger generation. Examine the process Stephanie Meyer used to generate buzz for her vampire saga. These authors rejuvenated an old theme, making it palatable for modern readers. Their vision was the same as any other writer: to be published, to tell stories and bring delight to readers everywhere. How did they do it? What jumped out from the page like a single snowflake, genuine, solitarily beautiful when all other snowflakes were just as sparkly? To find the answer, one must simply look at the writer’s voice.

Snow can mean many things to different people. It can enhance play, distract the workaholic, bring solitude or concern to travelers, shut in secluded homes, delay airplanes, close down freeways, disrupt entire cities, and force a slower pace. Snow can be cataclysmically life altering. It can destroy. If not controlled, fresh snow can increase the likelihood of avalanches. But in its beauty, it brings peace, solace, quiet interludes, and renewal. For the wash of moisture left behind when all the snow has melted nurtures the earth, readying it for spring.

Amazing isn’t it how a single ice crystal can herald such power en masse? So too can a writer’s voice impact a reader’s life. One word can change everything. String a few words together and you have the power to destroy or uplift, gather or dispatch, give life or kill. Whatever genre a writer chooses, a writer’s voice has power, and how a writer chooses to string his/her words together creates voice. Whether via horror, mystery, romance, suspense, young adult, inspirational, or mainstream, stories are the vessel for a writer’s voice. Voice makes the same Beauty and the Beast story exciting or disconcerting. Voice, can be frigid like snow or on fire like the thrumming pulse in a lover’s touch.

Each of us has a voice, whether we’re writers or not. How we choose to wield our powerful sword, “the word,” makes all the difference to the world, “agents/editors/readers,” a writer impacts. They are the ones who will be listening to us in rapt interest or buying our books. They are the landscape glistening with the words from our heart, which have been gleaned by “voice” and given access to an individual fingerprint called “style”.

It is through this process, fine-tuning voice, that our stories will be heard. Look at the world around you. Find in it a small token to cherish. If you have a dream, find a way to help it thrive. There is peace and joy to be found anywhere you look. And perhaps, like me, you will see in one snowflake the potential for success.

As we prepare for a New Year, what is the one thing you want to strive for in 2011 and what are you willing to do so your voice can be heard?


  1. Wonderful post, Kathy!

    The one thing I'm striving for in 2011 is to give wings to my fantasy story and send it out into the world...finally. Getting the synopsis finished and a query/cover letter composed is a must for that voice to be heard.

    I intend to recover from my lost year.

  2. Give your baby wings, Crystal! We have to let our little ones fly, sometimes before we're ready to let go. ;)

    Get that synopsis and query letter ready so we can all cheer you on when you get The Call!!

    I echo your sentiments about 2010 being a lost year. In my mind, I imagine the Lost Boys have swooped in and stolen opportunities from me because of these headaches. But I've got meds now. LOL! 2011 is looking GOOD!

  3. In the new year I am going to strive to find an agent. Like snowflakes in Alabama they are unique, difficult to find and elusive but that is my goal.

  4. The elusive agent hunt, eh? Will you help me? ;)

  5. I have a feeling my first step in getting my baby out there will be to secure an agent. I would appreciate any help and advice you ladies can give!

    Good luck with the hunt! May 2011 be a fabulous year of successes to celebrate beneath the tulip tree.

  6. I will also be in the agent-hunting boat, but I'm going to hold off until the second half of the year, I think. I need time and beta-readers to help me polish the ol' manuscript until I can see myself in it. >.>

  7. Of course we'll have much to celebrate in 2011. How could we not? The Tulip Tree is a charmed placed to congregate. ;)

    Crystal, if anyone has tips on getting an agent, I wish they'd speak up. I need as much help as I can get. LOL!

    RedPeril, just remember not to edit out your voice. Sometimes writers tend to do that without realizing it.

    En Guarde, 2011! Agents for every one of us, I say!

  8. Great post, Kathy!! I am wishing you the best this coming year! And, one thing on Voice, I've found out editors can do a number on it. LOL!

  9. Thanks, Patricia and Crystal! :D

    My snowflake just melted, Patricia. Drat! You mean we also have to find a way to make our snowflakes fit into a square hole? ;)

    Wishing everyone the best'est' New Year EVER!!

  10. Great post, Kathy! I so agree with you that Voice often makes the difference between getting that agent or contract. It's not something that can be taught, either. It's the writer allowing herself to let go and write freely from that well in her soul. Or his. Wishing you the best in 2011!

  11. Hey, Pat! So good to see you here. Thanks for posting! ;)

    What you say about a writer writing from the soul is so true. I believe agents and editors are looking for something unique. Because the publishing business is so subjective, a book can only sparkle when it is the product of honesty. :D

  12. I am going to try to write faster. I used to write really fast but I wrote a lot of unnecessary stuff. Now, I don't have to edit out so much, but I'm slower. I plan to meet in the middle.

  13. I like your plan, Jean. Keeping to your own pace, or whatever works for you, helps you get to your goal. Now I must make sure to put butt in chair in order to achieve my goals...