Well hello there Internet, how splendid to be back! Please say you missed me, or there may be the most frightful scene.
I have, as the more eagle-eyed amongst you will have observed, been away. I could spin you a sordid yarn of diamond-smuggling and a brief sojourn in a hellish Peruvian jail, but the truth is far more prosaic. I lost my voice. Not in a “warm brandy, kitten round the neck” sort of a way. No, that would have been far more enjoyable.
The Blogger’s Worst Nightmare
In what must surely be the worst professional catastrophe which can befall writers and bloggers, I found myself with nothing to say and no means of saying it. Inspiration dried up so entirely that even the trusty old standby methods of finding post inspiration failed. Moreover, whenever I attempted to write, the words came out flatter than a Friday-night karaoke bar. No fun, no lightness, no substance, no purpose. None of that which regular readers have been kind enough to say they enjoy in my writing. Which led me to thinking…
Words and voice are inextricably linked for writers of all genres. If one deserts you, the other loses its efficacy as surely as if it were encased in kryptonite. Lose the words and your voice has nothing to work its magic on; you can be eloquent or flippant, literary or light-hearted, informative or flirtatious, but all of this will lack veracity and fail to connect with readers. They’ll pick up on the tone, but they’ll switch off halfway through. Form over content is an imbalanced equation every time.
Equally, the most inspired piece of content in the entire history of writing can be killed stone dead by the lack of authorial voice. We each strive to find the voice which represents us uniquely and conveys the meaning of our words in a way which lifts them up to be more than they are on their own. Once found, we craft and hone it until it represents the very essence of our being and speaks to readers as though we were in the room alongside them. We find a way of connecting with complete strangers through the way we combine commonplace words on a page or screen.
With Great Visibility Comes Great Responsibility
And with this great power comes great responsibility, as the aforementioned Mr. Parker is so fond of reminding us. Not a responsibility to change the world or end poverty or even fight crime, but a responsibility to inform, to entertain, to enlighten. Yes, of course that sounds somewhat pretentious. And of course great writing can achieve all of those admirable goals and far more. That’s why writing is so powerful.
But that’s not the responsibility that you and I carry every time we rustle up another blog post is it? Nope. Not a bit of it. We just have to make sure we have something worth saying and can express it in a manner worthy of someone we’ve never met spending their valuable time to read.
Oh, hang on… that’s actually asking rather a lot when you think about it, isn’t it?
You bet it is. And it’s precisely that responsibility that can freak us out and send us scuttling for the nearest cover, shedding pens and pencils and paper behind us as we go. Safely ensconced in our bolt-holes, we peer out at a waiting audience, hoping that if we stay ever s still and ever so quiet, they might forget about us and go away. Shhhhhhh…
Wait… Dont Go!
But then… wait a minute… “forget about us“? That’s not what we want! That’s not why we’ve spent all those hours writing and editing and sweating and crafting and marketing and building up an audience is it? We want to be seen. We want to be noticed. Where are they going??
“Hold, on, come back! I’m over here, under this table, with a bucket on my head pretending to be a geranium!!”
In this strange ultra-connected new reality, writers and bloggers have to be always on. There’s no escape from our self-imposed limelight. We can’t just finish a blog and start a new one a couple of months later when we feel like it, as if we had a major publishing contract. We (mostly) don’t have big enough names that we can disappear for a while, then come bursting back in a blaze of glory once we’ve had our Caribbean sojourn.
And yes, that is a kind of responsibility and by George it can take it out of a chap (or chappess) at times. All that blogging and novelling and short-storying can wear your voice out. The latent superpower is still there, but without the secret identity to protect you, it just feels far too risky to venture forth. By the same token, your audience will only wait so long and there are a lot of other blogs out there. A lot.
So it’s back on with the mask, squeezing into the catsuit, donning the cape, mixing the metaphors and up, up and away once more!
Boy, it’s good to be a superhero again.