First post to the ThoughtFly Press site. I’ll inevitably end up talking about theme, narrative, character, rhythm, and language, and if I picked a point at random in the past or the future, I’d probably say that one of them was more important, but I’ve been thinking a lot about voice lately, so I’ll start there.
The rules of art are different from the rules of everything else. Everything else has some metric for success or failure – some test that you can do or number that you can point to to say: ‘see, I did a good job’. Art, maybe even more profoundly in the age of internet, has no such metric. Commercial success is no judge of quality or success, and while I’ll be the first to argue that ThoughtFly Press isn’t a pure-art site (especially if you define art as things that don’t sell to a broad audience), writing and the rest of the arts ask some difficult questions. What gives you the right? Why is this good enough? When is it done? Whose opinion gets the last word?
My job is editor. That means that I have to have the answers to all of those questions, at least at such a level of confidence that I believe them myself. That’s hard.
Not only that, but I’ll also be simultaneously writing content for MovieChopShop, and the website here, not to mention my own fiction, when I find time. So I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about voice, because the voice of each of these, plus my voice as an editor, are distinctly different, but still all mine.
Voice is the sense of self that you put into the world around you, and it’s something that every good artist should constantly keep in mind. It’s different from tone and from tempo, but those things are involved. Voice should be a representation of what you believe is true, without ever having to explicitly explain it. This is the what before the why or the how.
So I guess it’s a bit of a heavy introduction, but there it is. My name is Chloe Garner, and this is my voice. Identify your own and send it on to me; I’d love to meet you.