Here in Seattle most of us spent this first day of April wandering in a stupor after a weekend of much-needed sun and warmth, so we were primed for any foolishness that might happen. Usually, I head into the first of this month with a cautious ear and don’t get caught.
But this year, I was Fooled. Yes, with a capital F. I really thought Proctor and Gamble was going to sell bacon mouthwash. To be honest, I was quite excited about it. I was going to buy a bottle for my husband. “For breath that sizzles,” their webpage says. Okay, now that I’ve typed it, maybe I don’t want it so much anymore.
What about twttr? Wh0 nyds v0wyls? l d0n’t.
Actually, I do. I need vowels desperately, because without them I am not communicating what I intend to. Instead, I am playing a game with my reader–can you solve the puzzle? And if they can’t, the message is lost. And if they don’t want to, then the message is pointless.
Maybe it is Twitter I don’t need.
“I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or, at least, a voice. Of a generation,” says Lena Dunham in Girls
Do writers who think they are anything more than one voice among many this season’s real fools? Sure, a strong voice is important in writing. But what about when voice gets in the way of the writing?
I am currently reading The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. I bought it for two reasons: 1. it was on the bargain table at my local independent bookstore and 2. the back made claims about Weiner’s voice putting Bill Bryson to shame.
Many new writers struggle with the idea of voice. What does it mean, really? If you still aren’t sure, read anything by Bill Bryson and you will get it. You would recognize his voice anywhere, and will hear it in your head anytime you think about travel to Australia, take a hike in the woods, or see an image of the English countryside.
So, I bought the book based on the blurbs and suspended disbelief for long enough to dive in to Weiner’s account of his search for happiness. And, I know this shouldn’t be a surprise, but the reason that Weiner’s book is out there on the bargain table and Bryson’s books are on the regular-priced shelf is the authenticity of voice. Weiner is witty for the sake of wittiness, trying to be the voice. Trying to impress me, outvoicing his ideas. Sorry, buddy. You are not the voice but merely a voice.
So, who is the fool here? Me for buying a book based on the back cover? Weiner for allowing others to compare him in such a light? Or–again–me, for continuing to write, to put my voice out there, knowing it is just one of many?
These are the important things you should think about while sitting down to start a new masterpiece, or to revise a well-loved passage, or to polish a much-worked tome. (Okay, that is my April Fool’s on you. You should think about NONE OF THIS while actually writing. In fact, turn off your wifi connection. You are wasting valuable writing time!)
Did you get caught in any April Fools pranks?