Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Grace: How I Discovered My Writer's Voice

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, or at least my own version of it, did I write that great American novel?

Not yet.

But, I did write. And, I've learned a valuable lesson from the experience that will impact the quality of my writing from here on out.

For starters, it was bothering me that my writing was missing something. Something that would make it, well, readable.

It's kind of like when I learned to play violin. For the longest time, I couldn't read music and play at the same time. I just couldn't do it. I found a way around my problem by writing out the letter of each note on the sheet music. It worked, but it slowed me down and interrupted the flow of my music.

I remember clearly now, the first day that I could to play a piece before writing out the notes. I was in seventh grade, and thought I would give it one more try.

I opened my violin case, took out my rosin, and rubbed it all over the hair of my bow. The sweet smell of amber tickled my nose. Standing up straight, I held my violin under my chin and focused on the sheet music. No letters this time. Only notes.

Page de Camara on violin playing Canon in D

To my delight, as the bow slid across the bridge, I could decipher the notes on the sheet. I could play and read music simultaneously. It's as if something inside of me finally clicked.

It was the same way with writing. I kept reading others' works, good books, hoping that some of that awesome talent would rub off on me. When I went to write, the story made sense, but it didn't flow. It's like I couldn't tell a story and make it come alive for the reader at the same time.

But, despite my sense of failure, I didn't give up. I kept writing hoping that one day I'd get it.

Well, toward the end of NaNoWriMo, something clicked. It wasn't when I was writing. It was while reading a children's book (sometimes they're the best). The book was called, Stay!, Keeper's Storya novel about a dog, from the dog's point of view.

Leave it to Lois Lowry to teach me the art of voice. I love her books, especially The Giver series. Yes, more of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic genre, but the authenticity of the characters in these books is what makes them so readable.

In a good book, with strong voice and a steady, rhythmic flow, you can immerse yourself in the writer's world, even a world where a dog thinks like a human.

It's true. I was inside Keeper's mind. I needed to learn how to do that. How to play with words in such a way that I can create a whole new world.

Since that moment, I've been writing in a way that enables the reader to get lost in the words, in the world of my story. It was truly a turning point for me.

Now, I just have to go back over all that I've written with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

In the song Amazing Grace, written by John Newton, the words

"I once was blind, but now I see"

have taken on a new meaning for me.

There is the grace of knowing that in my sinfulness, frailty, and flaws, God has written a new story for me, a story of redemption. His death for my life. My life for His glory.

Every grace is a gift from the good heart of my Father in heaven,
from the grace of understanding muscial notation to the grace of discovering my writer's voice and the little graces in between.

Thanksgiving can become not just a once-a-year event, but an everyday occasion, from sunrise to sunset in this crazy short time we have to experience God's grace and give back the gift of praise.

Gives me hope to think about the next grace and the next...

His By Grace,