Matching the voice to your mood

A few days ago, I read a letter to the editor in my local paper that denigrated Darwin’s theory of evolution.  In fact, this writer stated that until ANY theory is proven, it’s false.  Scientists of the world, beware!  They are alive and breeding.  Anyway, I didn’t answer the letter, mainly because the paper wouldn’t have printed it when I called him a poopy-head. 

But yesterday, there was a response to the letter.  Two paragraphs into the response, I knew exactly who had written it.  Randy Farran, a local SF fan/writer/filkmaster/cartoonist.  Randy and I have known each other for a long time.  He has a wry sense of humor that shows up often in his music.  (He wrote a filk, a SF folk song, asking why dragons always want virgins to eat titled “Do Virgins Taste Better?” and it’s a hoot!)  He doesn’t have much patience with pretension and prejudice as he shows in his art, but when he is serious about his beliefs, he writes with the same strong voice that he speaks with.  That’s how I recognized his letter.

I was thinking about that today and I realized that often I read books based on my mood.  All authors have a “voice”.  And the better the writer, the stronger the voice until you can read a section of their work and pretty well guess who has written that piece.  It’s not unusually for me to start a book by a favorite author and, a few pages along, realize I’m not in the “mood” to read that author.  It’s not because you won’t like the story or you doubt the author will meet your expectations, but rather it’s because you may not be in the mood to read a book you know will be humorous or tender or angry.

I also know that sometimes my mood can affect what I write.  If I’m aggravated with how my life is going at a particular time, there is no way I can write a light-hearted scene.  Or if I’m tired, writing a suspenseful moment may be torture.  Does that stop me?  No, but later when I re-read what I’ve written, I ask myself “What were thinkin’, girl?”  I’ve discovered that sometimes working on something that matches my mood is the answer.  Or if I really NEED to work on a particular something that is counter-indicated by my mood, music will help change my mood.

Of course, eating chocolate and taking a nap helps, too!


8 thoughts on “Matching the voice to your mood

  1. Jackie!

    I agree with you on the ‘voice’. When I first started reading romance, I read a ton of series length romance. I discovered an author that wrote in a ‘stream of consciousness’ type of style. I swear, to this day, I could pick up any book and tell you if she wrote it. It is such a distinctive voice.

    I have shelves and shelves of keepers that I re-read. Sometimes I’m in a mood for a light-hearted romp. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a knight in shining armor. My mood reflects what I’m willing to spend time doing. spw

  2. Voice has been the hardest thing in this world for me to get. Years ago I had dinner in Dallas with Claire Zion, then senior editor at Warner, and we got onto the subject of voice. I said I hoped one day to develop one, and she gave me a funny look. She said, “Give me one page from three different books, and I’ll be able to pick out yours within a paragraph or two.”

    But to this day, I don’t think I recognize my own voice. 🙂

    I have to say, luckily, mood doesn’t affect my writing. About the only quirk I have there is I never start a love scene at the end of the day. Even if I’m short of my page goal, with love scenes it’s so easy to fall into stereotype, purple prose, etc. It’s just best for me to always start them on a new day.

  3. Jackie, I love your post. Chocolate makes everything better. I’m with you. I have authors I turn to depending on my mood or who I turn to lift me from a mood.

    After reading your blog, my mind went for a little wander…it does that sometimes…and found myself wondering…speaking of moods…how many children do you think have been conceived due to romance novels? (Forgive me. I know I’m off the beaten path)


  4. Thank you, Meg! I came closest to “getting” it at our retreat with Laura Abbott. I did learn to recognize some voices, just not my own. 😦

    Lynn . . . thousands, maybe? I don’t think it’s coincidental that the majority of our readers are mothers. 😉

  5. Jackie,

    When I’m feeling financially insecure I read Edith Wharton. When I’m having trouble falling asleep because I’ve got too much on my mind, I read non-fiction that is detailed and convoluted and that has a good balance between being interesting–that way I’ll stay with the author’s train of thought–and boring so it will put me to sleep. Philosophical works are good for this as are manuals on how to make or build things.

    Claude Mary

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