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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, June 12 2001

More on writing voices

As a writer, I've always been skeptical when literary "critics," trying to make a name for themselves in academic circles, claim that, for example, a Shakespeare play or a book of the Bible is not the work of the purported author because of discrepancies between that example and the author's other works. The author doesn't speak in the same "voice" (as might be alleged of Moses as the author of Genesis and Deuteronomy, for example).

How good a writer would one be if he weren't able to change his voice or adopt different "accents" from one work to the next? Furthermore, if he ages by several decades between writing the first and the second work, wouldn't he normally acquire other "voices," and new vocabulary, that would appear in the next work but weren't in the previous one?

I make it a practice to read over my most thoughtful works numerous times, adapting the point of view of first one, then another, imagined reader. As mentioned yesterday, what I say to a writers group that has never heard of the place before about Nanty Glo will be different than what I say to those who live or used to live there. When my most important writing was newspaper editorials, I would read over the work in progress first wearing the liberal cap, then the conservative cap, to try to feel how the stereotypical liberal and conservative would be struck by those words. If I'm trying to impress one group or another, even above another, I'll slant the writing appropriately. If I'm writing for professors, I'll use more high-falutin language than if writing for typical newspaper readers who are alleged to have an average educational attainment of fifth grade.

The joy of writing creatively is in the creating...creating a mood, a setting, a character, a vocabulary that transports readers into a different mindset that may be appealing enough to keep him or her reading from one chapter to the next or, in the case of these Jonal pieces, from one day to the next. It may be a form of manipulation or even having "power" over your readers, but it's a power that the readers choose to have exercised over them. Why read a thriller if you don't want to be manipulated to fearing imaginary threats? Why go to a movie if you don't want to be transported to another time and/or place? It's manipulation, but it's also entertainment. I find it much more satisfactory than manipulating other drivers on the highway, forcing them to slow down because I think they should, which is the way in which I most dislike being manipulated on a daily basis.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

The Top 40 Things You Will Never Hear A Southern Boy Say

25. Honey, we don't need another dog.
24. Who gives a darn who won the Civil War?
23. Give me the small bag of pork rinds.
22. Too many deer heads detract from the decor.
21. Spittin is such a nasty habit.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Four more to grow on

"When you're performing, you don't have time to make excuses. If you're making excuses, it's because you failed to perform." C. J. Steffen
"If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else." Yogi Berra
"Two things determine success in any endeavor—Ability and Effort. Ability is finite. Effort is infinite. How much effort are you willing to give?" Phil Steffen
"Our hindsight is better than our foresight by a darnsight." Dr. Marvin Cetron

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