I’ve long suspected that at least in terms of nonfiction I have found my voice. That was confirmed by the critique I got from Chronicle’s Taylor Norman at the Missouri SCBWI Advanced Writer’s Retreat. I submitted the picture book version of What’s Up, Chuck? which is basically a scientific take on vomit. Yes, there is actually enough information for 14 spreads. In reality there’s enough for much, much more. To make a short story long, Taylor commented positively on my voice. Woo-hoo! She not only found it, but she liked it. I have a nonfiction voice.
That said, no one has ever made that comment about my fiction voice. Part of the problem is probably that I simply don’t share my fiction very often. They aren’t going to have anything to say about it unless they read it but I don’t think that’s the entire problem.
I also need to make sure that my voice is a good match for what I’m writing. This weekend, we had the opportunity for first page critiques. Out of a dozen commentators, two people loved my voice. Several others commented that they thought the character’s vocabulary was too much for a 7 year-old. Yet several more felt that the story should be a chapter book.
In reality, I think these are all comments on my fiction voice. The vocabulary level is “enriched” and its a bit cheeky. That makes it a natural fit for middle grade on up. Picture books? I’ve read plenty of picture books with this type of voice but I wonder if they are typical. I suspect that they are far from it.
Does this mean that I should change my voice? I suspect not. But I am going to have to write more fiction so that I develop confidence in this facet of my voice. Until then, I’ll keep writing with the knowledge that I sound like myself and the awareness, that at least for some, my voice may be an acquired taste.