Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My voice(s)

Beat The Dust invited submissions for their latest literary experiment. They asked for pieces of 500 words or less, taking as the start point an end line you thought good.

I took my line from Jenni Fagan's excellent novel The Panopticon and wrote "Again".

It struck me how the voice I used was at once my own voice, and not my voice. It's how I speak, sometimes. It's not how I speak usually. It is my voice. It's in my head. It feels comfortable, natural. It's not how my mum sounds, but my dad and brothers do. When I go home, back to where I was raised, that voice, a blending of Essex and East London, a sweary shorthand, feels very usual. Now it's published, and I read it back, I feel awkward in case someone thinks it's a patronising kind of mimicry. If you meet me now I probably won't sound like that. If we have a few drinks in the pub I may well do. (I won't ever say "nothink" though, I hate that erroneous "k"). My dad is originally from Ireland. He speaks with a British Essex accent but if he meets up with his family his Irish accent reappears. When I was young it sounded like another language. It's interesting, is it a fake accent or is it his voice?

Seeing as how it's a piece of fiction anyway it shouldn't make any odds. But it does, to me. Hence this post.

I really appreciate the work Melissa Mann does with BTD. I like how she invites us to play and stretch and keep on pushing our words. It's an interesting journal. Oh, and I LOVED choosing my five fave intros. There would be a different five today probably.


Erinna Mettler said...

It's great - and not at all patronising. It's a fictional observation and it has an authentic voice, a voice that exists in the real world. It is hard though when you draw on your origins for your work, it often feels like you are being patronising - I think it's because you are distant and close at the same time.

Rachel Fenton said...

I thought it rang true - not patronising. Great story, made all the better for such a convincing voice.

I think we all have dual selves and multiple voices we can call upon to access different ways to get inside a character. It messes with my head if I try to fathom it.

Unknown said...

Cheers, Erinna and Rachel. Glad you didn't hear it as patronising. I kinda hate cultural tourism and appropriation of other people's voices if it's done in a superior mocking way. Sometimes it puts me off writing what's in my head though. Trying to lose the fear.

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