By Wade Rouse
Continuing from my blog post on Friday, April 19, 2019…So, I started anew. Fearless. I channeled my voice, the funny-sad-poignant-sentimental one that could make me ugly laugh and ugly cry in the course of one paragraph. I finished the book, I queried agents, and I received three offers of representation. That was five books ago.
"Your voice is one-of-a-kind," my literary agent said to me when I signed with her.
The same thing happened again when I wrote my first novel, The Charm Bracelet, which was inspired by my grandma’s heirlooms, life, love and lessons. I channeled the voice of my female elders to write a book about dementia and the fragility of life as well as to remind readers of the value of family, history and what’s most important in life.
Voice is all we have as writers. If you ask any agent, editor, or publisher what he or she is looking for today in a writer or book, they typically will not say the next Harry Potter or Stephen King: They will say the next great voice.
Voice is the only thing that sets a writer apart from another. I joke there is only so much that separates Sedaris from Shakespeare: We all utilize the same tool belt: Same words, same themes. We all tend to write about the same things, too: Love, faith, family, sex, work, pets, war, death, but it's how we tell those stories that makes us unique.
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers and teachers of writing. She explains voice this way to writers, and I do as well: If you were all a choir, and I gave you the lyrics to the same song, and stood back and listened to you sing, from a distance, it would largely sound the same. You'd be singing the same words, hopefully together and in tune. But if I dropped a microphone over each of your heads, the song would sound totally different: The sound of your voice, the way you interpret those exact same words would be uniquely you. A writer must do just that, except silently, on paper.
I teach several writing workshops, where I help emerging and established authors on their craft and their manuscripts. I am proud to have helped several writers have their manuscripts published by major publishers. But I am prouder of the fact that I help souls overcome the fear that keeps them from not only pursuing their passion but also from channeling that unique voice that calls to them.
Let your voice be heard – no matter what it is, just as long as it calls to you – and I guarantee you'll be amazed at how many people will respond not only to your talent but also your fearlessness.
WADE ROUSE is the internationally bestselling author of nine books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction. Wade’s novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope Chest; and The Recipe Box. NYT bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank says of Wade and his latest novel, The Summer Cottage: “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters. Viola Shipman is that voice and The Summer Cottage is that novel.” Wade's books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the New York Times and on Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers. His writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly. Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors. For more, please visit violashipman.com and waderouse.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorviolashipman/ Instagram: viola_shipman Twitter: @viola_shipman