Gina Robinson on Voice and Style
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Nov 07 2008
Author Web site: www.ginarobinson.com
Are You Who You Think You Are?
It took me a long time to sell and I’m not shy about admitting it. I hope my story encourages other writers to keep going. Lately I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I think finally propelled me over that big barbed-wire fence into the land of the published. Everyone wants to know my secret. They weren’t really satisfied with vague answers like perseverance, luck, and timing finally all aligning. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the answer—I found out who I am as a writer. I found my voice. And who I am as a writer is not who I thought I was at all.
Pretty much since I first gained consciousness of myself as a separate entity from my mother, I’ve thought I was a serious-minded woman. So when I first began writing, I was oh so serious. About four years into my struggle to get published, I wrote what I called a silly little proposal. I was embarrassed to show it to my critique group. But they loved it. It made them laugh.
I’m not a comedienne. I can’t tell a joke to save my life. That must have been a fluke. So I went back to the straight stuff, no humor allowed. Years later, I wrote another light, humorous book. And guess what? It’s my debut novel, Spy Candy. It still amazes me that people find it funny. Because I’m not funny. At least, I don’t think of myself that way.
Sure, I make up silly dances. But that’s just to cover the fact I can’t dance. And I sing silly songs to my kids, but that’s mostly because I can never remember any real lyrics. And I make up words and crazy names for things. And I write in a humorous tone. You see where I’m going here?
So write down who you think you are. Then listen to what people say about your writing. Write down what they tell you they connect with. Does it match what you think your strengths are? When writing, try to play to those strengths you didn’t realize you had. Your writing will be stronger, I guarantee you.
And now, will the writer out there who was the class clown and could be a stand-up comic, but whose strength is writing serious give me a call? We need to talk. I think our writing personalities were switched at birth.