Voices and Choices
In my writing journey, listening to voices is part of the process. From these voices, I make my choices.
The varied voices I hear either affirm or negate my initial thoughts. It’s like listening to the thump-thump of my future readers’ hearts. I see different perspectives—enriching and clarifying.
I recently finished my first draft—always a feat for me—of a story. I had son #1 read it. His terse comment, “Too harsh, too vivid.”
Upon hearing his voice, I wrote a softer version. Then to my second reader I went—Tony. He said, as tersely as my first reader, “Too tame; try being more graphic.”
Now I was faced with two opposing views. First version? Second version?
To settle my dilemma, I exposed both versions to four grade-school teachers, like a small-scale Focus Group Discussion (FGD). To my surprise, they all chose version 1! Being more communicative than son#1 and husband, they gave me insights that made me look more closely into version 1 to enhance it:
"Yes, crime has consequences."
"Very timely. Kids should know about their rights in case they get picked up by the police, especially today."
"Suspenseful. I wanted to know how it would end."
"Punishment and forgiveness came together. Nice."
Version 1 was on the right track, as far as readership is concerned. I followed my guts and saw it through.
For days on end, I worked on version 1, revising, polishing, tweaking, and twisting it (and checking my legal facts) to a point where I think I am now ready to send it to my editor.
Version 2 will stay in the freezer.
But the story is far from being finished. The editor has a voice, too, and so does the back-up editor, and so does the artist.
The book that finally reaches the reader’s hand is a product of all. I credit no one, not even the writer, for any published book to happen.
Christian books are a product of grace, my only enabler. God’s grace makes a writer’s ears and heart listen, and listen well, so she can make the right choices.