Today is my 300th post! Wowee I can’t believe it! Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read, like and comment: it makes it all worth it. Here’s to 300 more! 🙂
I had a wonderful hour this afternoon with a good friend (and one who obviously reads my blog from time to time) and I realised something important.
A while I go I wrote on this blog about how my friends never laughed when I spent time with them. It concerned me, because I don’t want to be Miss Bates (Emma by Jane Austen), rattling on without humour and driving everyone crazy.
After a lovely time with my friend today, talking about my books, my blog, my love of writing, I felt on top of the world, despite feeling rubbish all day due to lack of sleep. I sent a thank you text with a quick apology that we were late meeting – I’d forgotten about the bank holiday traffic.
In response my friend said “I had a great time you are on fine form and I laughed loads”. An odd thing to comment, which is why I think she reads the occasional blog post (and if you’re reading this, thank you! You have no idea how much it means to me!) as it felt like a direct response to my previous post about making friends laugh.
When I got home I also read a post on Kristen Lamb’s blog about author’s voice. Putting the two together, I realised that friendships are like novels: either you relate to someone’s voice or you don’t. The enthusiastic five-star reviews of the novel you couldn’t stand? The one-star diatribe against your favourite author?: it’s all about voice. Genre too, and characters and plot, of course. But, underneath it all, is the voice.
Poor grammar, typos, even bigger problems, are all forgiven in a book that captures our interest. But the most polished, crafted, well written novel in a style you can’t stomach is unlikely to be read to the end, certainly not more than once.
And you can no more say why you love an author’s voice than you can explain why an hour with one person will have you both laughing, and with another can feel like the first time you’ve met.
So, as an author, if someone doesn’t like your book when most people do (not just your doting Great Aunt Maude) don’t change your voice, change your audience.
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire rolled off her bunk and groaned. A day’s hiking followed by grade five white water rafting for three hours meant her muscles had turned to mush and her bones to jelly.
All I want to do is crawl on the bus and sleep. Next stop Wellington.
The smell of fresh bread wafted through her room, and Claire paused in her packing to soak it in. A gurgling response from her tummy made her speed up her progress and, before long, she was striding down the corridor with her rucksack bouncing on her bruised shoulders.
Claire looked up and smiled at the girl eating breakfast by herself in the kitchen. She recognised her from the Tongariro Crossing and had a vague feeling she had been on the rafting expedition too, although not in her testosterone-laden vessel. The last thought made her scowl and she had to force the feelings away before her fellow traveller took offense.
The girl interpreted her grimace as one of pain. Nodding in agreement, Claire helped herself to some food before sitting gingerly at the table.
“Me too,” the girl mumbled around her toast. “Name’s Bethan, by the way.”
Claire introduced herself and gave off her companionable silence vibes. They didn’t work.
“Are you going on the horse trek this morning, before we leave?”
With a shake of her head, Claire tried to kill the conversation. A combination of pain and memories had kept her awake for too much of the night and now it felt like someone was trying to deliver her brain by ventouse.
“I thought I might try the spa,” Bethan continued, oblivious to the wall of silence on the other side of the table. She flicked her long black hair over her shoulder and looked around the room with a grin. Claire hated people who were happy before 8 a.m.
“I didn’t know they had a spa,” she murmured. Actually a spa sounded perfect, to ease the muscles with some hot water and a massage. But money was getting tight and she couldn’t afford to be frivolous.
“No, I think it better be the horse riding,” Bethan continued, debating her options out loud. “I can go to a spa at home, but I can’t ride an unbridled horse across the hills.”
“Bareback riding? You’re brave.” Claire had struggled enough with the pack pony in the New Forest and that had been a slug.
She flushed as Bethan laughed. “No, not without a saddle, just without a bit and bridle.”
“How do you steer?” Claire looked around, desperately hoping a vat of steaming coffee might appear from nowhere.
“They have rope halters to guide them. Apparently you get to canter if you want to and everything. It sounds awesome.”
Claire wasn’t convinced, although the scenery around them was beautiful. Unfortunately she hadn’t realised how expensive all the extras would be, on top of the coach ticket. She was starting to feel that hiring a car and finding her own way round, able to choose her own activities and accommodation, might have been a more frugal and sensible option.
At least I can write authentically for the backpacker market. I can’t afford it this trip, even with my salary: how do the youngsters who’ve never worked a day in their lives, apart from pulling pints in the student bar, afford their gap year? She thought for a moment, and shrugged. Same way as me, I suppose. The not-so-flexible friend. I think my plastic my snap if I bend it any further.
She finished her breakfast and wandered out to find what time the coach was leaving, and to see if it was possible to pass a couple of hours without spending any money. Some how she doubted it.