Monday, December 14, 2009

Snoop Dogg and Me

The other day I read a post by a fellow blogger and in it she mentioned Tupac and put up a video. I had never heard his songs but knew my husband used to listen to him all the time, so together we looked up some old videos.

As we sat and watched old videos, it became apparent to me that each of these big-time, famous rappers have a very unique voice. After watching only a few videos, I'm sure if I heard these rappers on the radio, I'd recognize their style.

Funny thing is that over ten years later, Hubby still knows the lyrics to Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Dr. Dre songs (and I was a little horrified his parents let him listen to them, lol.)

I'm still trying to sort through what this means for our writing.

What does it mean to have a unique voice? Will it get us published faster? Do you think the more you write the more your voice will shine through? Or do some people have it, and some people don't?

47 comments:

Tamika: said...

I believe the more you write the more it will shine through. Each rapper embraced who they were without trying to be something other than what they were. Bad and all!

Tabitha Bird said...

I am hoping that the more I know myself as a writer the more comfortable I will get with my own voice. I seemed to have a distinct way of looking at the world when I arrived at writings doorstep. But I think the more you write the more your voice comes through. If you are a writer then you have a voice and it will be your own, how could it not be?, and eventually you will find it a shout from the roof tops... or whisper from the gardens... whatever is your style :)

Jody Hedlund said...

I don't think a unique voice will necessarily guarantee faster publication. But I would answer yes to your other questions. The more we write, I think the stronger our voice gets--if we let it. And some people just don't have a writing voice, just like I don't have a musical voice! I can sing, but that doesn't mean my voice will ever stand out in a crowd.

Jessica said...

LOL Tamika, you're SO right. Heh. The lyrics were really bad, I couldn't believe hubby was allowed to listen them. LOL

Great point Tabitha! I like how you said some voices shout and some whisper. :-)

Jessica said...

Jody, a part of me thinks that too, but then I think of the singers who can't sing and are famous. LOL! Then I wonder if even a mangled voice is better than a subdued one???
I think I agree, strong voice doesn't guarantee a contract.

sherrinda said...

Katie Weiland had a great post on voice today. Check it out: http://authorculture.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-to-find-your-voice.html

Katie Ganshert said...

Voice is such a hard thing to pin down. It's very abstract. One of the hardest things to teach my students, too, since I have a hard time understanding it.

I think voice evolves with the writer. And I do think a really unique, fresh voice can appeal to editors/agents. It's nice to read something different for a change, I'm sure.

Krista Phillips said...

I think the writing voice is similar to the LA LA LA LA singing voice.

I mean, you have those who are completely tone death and can't carry any kinda tune. That would be the people who have zero home of writing any kind of book, because their voice is flat, they have no story creativity, and really, just aren't made for it. THOSE kind of people can't be taught, IMHO.

Then, you have those who sing okay, on tune, but their voice is non-descript, nothing to write home about, and wouldn't win any grammy's. These people MIGHT get a publishing contract, just like Jessica pointed out, there are some "singers" who don't have a great voice but are still singing. Who knows why, but suffice to say, it isn't the norm. (I think we can all think of a few books we read that fall into this catagory)

Oh, and then you have those who don't sing well, but you can tell underneath that their voice is unique, and with some work could blow crowds away. Those are the people who, when they write, may not have the craft down, but wow, with a little work, they'll soar.

THen, of course, you have the people who have natural talent who make us all slightly sick. Those are the people who get their book published on the first try. *gag*

Okay, so long comment, but my ramblings for the morning!

Jessica said...

LOL Krista! I think you've pinned things down here. Heeheee

Thanks for the link Sherrinda!

Katie, I'm sure you're right about a change. Just reading query contests can make my eyes cross because so many sound the same.

anita said...

Voice isn't always what gets a person pubbed first time out of the gate. I can think of one FAMOUS writer in particular (and Jessie knows who I'm referring to) who didn't have much in the way of voice or craft and she's knocked the publishing world on it's proverbial tushie. ;-P

And I've always been told my voice is very unique and strong, but it hasn't gotten me published yet. Although it did get me an agent, so I'm one step closer.

As to actually getting a publisher, there's a balance where everything comes together: voice, story, and craft ... but most of all, timing. THAT'S what makes you sell. The meshing of those elements. And all of us are writing and writing to reach that balance.

I do think that voice gets stronger with each book, just as your craft does. It's just some people have a distinctively different feel to their prose, and can get picked out in a lineup of excerpts for that reason alone.

Those are my thoughts on the matter... ;-) Great post, Jessie!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Hope my voice stands out in the chorus of writers...not as a sour note but as one that takes your breath away and makes you want to hear a solo and more!!

Marybeth Poppins said...

Snoop Doggy Doooooog! LOL

Definitely a unique voice. I do hope mine stands out that much :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I've been thinking a lot lately how voice and confidence are linked. In that respect, I do wonder if those with a strong voice find their way to publication faster...b/c of their tenacity??? Something for me to keep thinking about.
~ Wendy

Kara said...

Good question! I just hope my voice is heard and that people want to hear it:)

Angie Muresan said...

While I do believe some people have it and some don't, I also believe in the power of marketing. There are plenty of books out there, that make me wonder just how it is that they got published, because they sure are mediocre. If there is a demand for a certain product (readers) rubbish will be published.

Jessica said...

Anita, Great comment! I think you have an awesome point about timing. Totally agree. You do have a strong voice and I think that had a lot to do with you getting your agent (not that your stories aren't completely awesome, lol).

LOL Donna! Love that bit about the solo. I hope that too. :)

Kara, me too!

Wendy, good point about tenacity and confidence. I think it probably has a lot to do with success.

Hahaaa! MaryBeth, though I'd never heard the song, I can't tell you how many times my hubby breaks into that chorus. LOL

Jessica said...

True Angie. And sometimes the amazing books aren't seen and therefore aren't bought. Although I definitely believe in word of mouth.

Linda Kage said...

Oh, I think EVERYONE has some kind of voice, be it dry to witty. And I bet like rappers, the more distinct and unique your voice is, the longer you'll be remembered for it, and more people will be able to recognize your writing.

Proverbs 27:19 said...

Having a unique voice in writing is beneficial because readers will know what to expect from you.

So of course, havng a unique voice will make you shine through.

About publishing faster, hmmm, I can go both ways on this. Yes it could if the industry is ready for change and the voice you are offering.

Then again, no, because of its uniqueness, there are risks involved such as, "Well we've never done something like this before...What's your platform...How great is the need for this type of thing?"

I feel that it just boils down to being confident in what you are writing and JUST-BE-REAL!!!

smooches,
Larie

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I think it can be a blessing and a curse, especially if you are too unique in the wrong way. Then again...

There's a country singer (I won't say her name) that I LOVE now. I mean, love. I buy all of the albums--that sort of thing. But the first time I heard her sing, I turned off the radio. The same for a year after that. She had a voice that I hated. Then one day, something just clicked and I loved her. She had to grow on me, ya know?

Jessica said...

Kristen, now I'm SO curious. LOL But yes, I think I know what you mean. There's a famous author, I heard about him on an agent blog, that I read. His voice was strong. I could see he was a good writer and his plot was cool, but I never read another of his books. We just didn't click, I guess. :-)

Great points Larie! So you would say being real is what will allow our voice to be stronger?

Jessica said...

Linda, i think you're right about the uniqueness of our voice making it more memorable. :-)

Patti said...

I definitely think the more you write, the more your voice will come out. It's like getting to know someone. The more time you spend with them, the more yourself you become.

Erica Vetsch said...

I think, as you write, your voice emerges. As you flex those voice muscles, the voice becomes more defined and identifiable.

Snoop Dogg? LOL!

T. Anne said...

As I visit each different blog I can sense over time the unique voice of it's author. BTW, I think you have the sweetest voice of them all!! I'd like to think my voice it's so muddled and that an agent will get my voice. I'm hoping it translates great to my readers as well. (If you get a minute check out what i wrote you in my comments section;)

Debra E Marvin said...

I think the voice emerges as we practice the craft, but my bigger concern is letting it get watered down as we respond to what judges, critiquers, teachers suggest. It takes awhile to separate the "good suggestion that improves" versus the "this is the way I'd write your book".

Confidence is a big part of developing and keeping your voice.

Julie Dao said...

Haha my parents would never let me listen to rap when I was growing up! Hmm I think a distinctive voice helps you when it comes to garnering a unique audience - not necessarily mind-blowing success but if your voice is genuine, people will recognize that and appreciate it. I don't see how it would hurt an author in any way, unless they were really "out there." I guess it all depends on the market and what is popular now. Paranormal YA romance wouldn't have been as widespread ten years ago as it is now, possibly, when it would have been considered more unique because it wasn't as in-your-face-mainstream as it seems to be nowadays.

Jessica said...

Julie, LOL. My mom sure wouldn't have let us listen to those particular rappers. I think people appreciate a genuine voice too.

Debra, that's a good point. I worry about mine being watered down, but now with my crit group. It's def. important to respect someone's voice, esp. when it comes to wording, metaphors, etc.
I feel like I'm still trying to learn what's my voice and what's not.

T. Anne, You're so sweet too! I totally agree that we can hear people's voices in their posts. Popping by your place now...

Jessica said...

Ooh, Patti that is such an excellent analogy! Thank you for sharing it. :-)

Erica, you love Snoop, dontcha??? *grin*

Jill Kemerer said...

I think voice is all about honesty. The rappers you mentioned all put very honest lyrics (maybe not my favorite!) out there and became popular because people resonated with them. Then, a slew of wannabes copied them. But the originals will always stand out.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

A friend of mine wrote a couple of children's books. When I read her books, I can hear her voice - the way she speaks, her mannerisms, her word choices, etc.

I've also read a number of non-fiction books by famous people. Whether or not they wrote the book themselves, their voice comes through.

As long as the writer's voice doesn't submerge the character's voice, it works. I recently read a book by someone famous. It came across as the person telling the character's story rather than showing the action. Author intrusion - now there's a subject for a post!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Denise Petrovich said...

I think an unusual voice should get you published. However from what I am learning there is an unfortunate trend with publishers, giving the writers strict character guidelines that lends itself to repetive storylines. Very sad. Everyone has a voice although some are stronger and more aggressive. Enjoyed the posts by everyone today.

Jenna said...

I don't think there's really anything that can get you published "faster." It's all so subjective.

That being said, I do think that it can help if you really take the time to develop your voice and find out who you are when it comes to your writing. I think that if you really know what you write and how you write it, it shows. People respect that.

Great post. :)

Karen Lange said...

I think all writers have a voice, but like personalities, some are stronger and more distinctive than others. I don't think this always means faster publication, but it may cause someone to stand out from the crowd a bit more. Time and practice help our voices shine, and of course, makes us better writers. Thanks for letting me share my two cents for the day:) Blessings!

ElanaJ said...

I think we all have a natural writer's voice. We may choose to write a novel in this voice. But we may not be able to write a second novel in this voice.

I believe that voice can be "found" or developed. Fo sho, dawg.

Warren Baldwin said...

I like Larie's answer - be real. I think we all have a unique voice. What helps develop it is a lot of reading, studying and thinking. That gives substance to our voice. I listen to old farmers tell stories and tell them, "You ought to write these stories down." Some say, "Well, I've thought about that." One man has written some of his stories down already. But most think no one would read it. Wrong. Their family members would, and their personality and insights would live on for generations. Write!

Jessica said...

Jill, you're right, those songs are extremely honest in some ways.

Susan, lol, I think I have an old post on that and have also read others'. It's so tempting, right? :-)

Mom, it's true publishers sometimes stick with the tried and true. So did you ever listen to Snoop Dogg? *grin*

Jessica said...

The reader knows... Jenna, that's a subject for another post! LOL You're right about that. Our passion and self-confidence will shine through our voice. Both those qualities are attractive too.

I think you're right, Karen. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. :-)

Haaahaaaa! Very funny, Elana.

Warren, you're right about the farmers. I know I'd love to read anything my grandparents wrote.

Dara said...

I think everyone has a unique voice, but I also think it takes longer for some of us to "find" it.

I don't think I've really "found" mine yet. At least I don't feel like I have--but I could be wrong.

Nancy said...

I'm going to guess that the more you write, the more your voice shines through. At least, that's what I hope.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Great questions, Jessie.

I don't think the more unique your voice is the more likely you are to get published, but I believe you need a voice that's easy to read and understand. A voice that average people can relate well to.

The more you write, the more comfortable you become with your voice. The more it becomes part of you, like your handprint or your gait.

Great post!
Jen
Audience of ONE

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hi, Jessica. I hopped over here from Julie's blog. I see you're part of the rampant game of tag - now I can get to know you better on my first visit! There are a lot of familiar faces here. ;-)

Deb Shucka said...

I think the closer we are to our true voice, the more powerful our writing. And I think we find that truth through lots and lots of writing. I can't imagine it's something some get and some don't - anyone who's willing to embark on the journey will find their voice.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

This is one of my biggest fears, Jessica, that some have it and others don't, and I'm in the latter grouping.

I've heard that it comes through writing, writing, writing. I sure hope that is correct.

Jessica said...

I hope so too, Eileen and Nancy.
Dara, I know. I don't know if I've found mine yet. Still writing and writing. :-)

Deb, great comment. You mentioned truth. Several others mentioned being real. I think that's a big part of strong voice. Or maybe that's what makes up the passion in our writing? Not sure...

Jeanette, how genius to compare voice to a gait. Everyone has a way they walk. They may or may not be aware of it, but right now I can think of several people who walk and stand in certain ways. It's a part of who they are. I also liked your point about being relatable. It's no good to have a strong voice if no one understands it. Thanks for commenting!

Hi Shannon, thank you so much for stopping by! :-)

Irritable Mother said...

Have you ever read anything by Liz Curtis Higgs? I simply LOVE her voice!
I heard her speak at a women's conference many years ago and bought one of her books. It was so fun for me. Since I had just heard her actually speaking, I could really hear her voice in my head as I was reading.
I don't know about having a unique voice and whether that will result in faster publishing, but I do love it when a writer has a clear voice!

Patti Lacy said...

This is SUCH an amazing blog!!!
As a Humanities instructor, I tuaght Tupac to demonstrate values in music. Listen to "Brenda's Got a Baby," and you will be changed.

To me, that nails voice in writing. Am I changed by reading a certain writer's work because of the unique combination of words, power, insight, music, rhythm?

Meet Monet, VanGogh, Pendergrast, Vermeer and hundreds of other painters and fall in love. You see them again and know their brush strokes. Their hues. Their tones. Their subjects. Their angst, poured onto the canvas like water for you to drink.

Their fingerprint.


Voice.

Patti

www.pattilacy.com/blog