Voice and Questions

One of my challenges is to write about my Historical Character in a way that sounds natural. This is the first time I have ever written about a Historical Character in my prose and so I have fallen into a number of beginner traps.

First I sounded like a robot. Then I sounded like The History Channel. After that I wrote about her so sparingly that I took all the things that were interesting about her. My current challenge is to write about her without slipping into nineteenth-century turns of phrase.

One of my readers commented on my sometimes old-fashioned use of language. This was even before I put my Historical Character back in.

“I know, it’s just something I do. Hazard of being an English major,” I told her. “Is it okay?”

“Yes,” she said. “I like it.” And a few days later, thinking back on the conversation, I realized that all the Anne of Green Gable books I read and reread in my youth profoundly affected my vocabulary.

*

It’s day 4 or 5 of this residency, and I’m exhausted. You spend a lot of time at a residency questioning yourself: Am I doing enough work? Should I work on this or that? What should I read? Bike ride or walk? Take a break or get back to work? So I question my exhaustion.

I’m doing a new (to me) kind of writing about my Historical Character. And then I keep getting into intense, intellectually arousing writer conversations. We stay up too late drinking wine. And then I went on a long bike ride yesterday. I took a nap at a weird time today, but I justified it.

A writing residency has AWP levels of intensity. And I left AWP completely exhausted. But the duration is longer at a residency. So I have to pace myself, and make choices that will enable me above all to keep writing.

What have you justified for yourself today?

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4 responses to “Voice and Questions

  1. It took Hope Muntz nine years to get the language right in THE GOLDEN WARRIOR but she did win the Nobel prize.

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