The voices in my head all have different accents…
I’m assuming this is the same for everyone? Right? Coming from the Bedfordshire/Cambridgeshire area of England my natural voice doesn’t have any accent to it – anyone who knows me can correct me on this but it just sounds flat and dull to me. Despite being introduced to all as a Northerner when I was at college, in Hampshire, I sadly have no interesting northern inflections at all when I speak, it is most disappointing.
My thoughts, however, are a completely different matter and the most popular accents in there are Scottish, Irish and American. I have no idea why this is but whenever I think it is in a different accent to my own. I can keep up this same accent for hours, maintain it throughout an argument (because we all argue with ourselves about stuff, don’t we?) and it continually sounds totally authentic.
I also have a terrible habit. I have a tendency to mimic the accent of those I’m talking to, and I don’t even know I’m doing it. I’ve had to rein this in over the years as it embarrasses the kids. They have mentioned it and I have noticed myself doing it while talking to someone and then had to backtrack trying to return to my normal nothingness in order to extricate myself from a conversation with as much dignity as I can manage. Awkward!
So why am I telling you this? Well, the disappointing part of all this is that I’m unable to transfer the perfect sounds in my head to my speaking voice. At least, not for more than perhaps a sentence or two and then it’s gone. There has been only one exception to this and that was while I was at college where one of the other students was an American. I am a sucker for an American accent and exposed to one every day I could take it off perfectly and spoke like that much of the time – and no, I don’t know why either. I am very irritating.
Anyway the point is that it has come to my attention that as well as having no consistency with the voices and I am finding I’m the same with trying to stick to a holding pattern with my writing. I have discovered my natural writing style is first person in the past. I am writing in first person again for my fourth novel but this time it is set in the present. I start writing and I can maintain this for perhaps a sentence, maybe two but after that I know when I check back on it I will have drifted right back into the past again. I know it’s not a problem as it will be sorted out in the editing but it would really be great if I didn’t have to keep correcting everything!
As you may remember three months ago I set myself a target to compete the first draft of my fourth novel by the end of September. I can announce here that I have failed, but it was a self-imposed deadline so I’m not beating myself up about it. And I’m in a much better place with the whole project than I was three months ago so I’m feeling good.
I aimed to write 1000 words a day for three months and that hasn’t always been possible. I work long hours and when I’ve finished a working day at ten at night I’m unsurprisingly not at my most creative and therefore unable to start on a fresh and, hopefully vibrant, 1000 then.
The situation is this, I have written 52 thousand words and I’m probably about two thirds done. However much more importantly than the number is the fact that I do actually think the story is going to come together and be alright. I did not think that three months ago – although I may not have said as much. :-/
I am a pantster, not a plotter – until yesterday. I’d got to the stage where I couldn’t put off the fact that I had no idea what order things had to happen in any longer. I pushed away the keyboard and reached for a couple of pieces of paper instead and spent a couple of hours mapping out the timeline and working out how everything that needs to happen can be fitted in so it works. At least I think it works. I daresay my editor will have something to say on the matter at some distant point in the future.
So I’ve been pretty much absent for three months and that will continue for a while longer I’m afraid. I haven’t been posting blog posts and sending newsletters, my personal reading has dried to a trickle, I’ve missed the publishing of some of your books (and for that I am truly sorry for the lack of support) and my forays onto social media have been intermittent and short lived.
I thank all of you for your continued support – for sharing my stuff and for being there with a virtual shoulder when needed and I look forward to being around a bit more in the not too distant future. As always, if you need me to do something, get in touch by email. 🙂
This comment is from Terry Tyler, who can’t comment here…
I know what you mean re not being able to do accents even though they work perfectly in your head – I have been cured of ever, ever trying after hearing what all the native Geordies around whom I live think of people who try to emulate this unusual and distinctive one!
I naturally write in the 1st person past tense too – I think that seems the most obvious, but I find that some characters’ just don’t work right in the 1st, usually when knowing exactly what was going on in their head would not work so well for the story. That’s when I do that thing that’s kind of half-and-half. The narrative is written from their POV but in the 3rd person. It’s got a proper name (I read it once in an article by a creative writing tutor), but I don’t know what it is; I didn’t know it was a ‘thing’, it’s just how I write! I’ve never tried writing in the present tense. Very hard to pull off, I’m not sure I could. I don’t know if you’ve read any of Carol Hedges’ books, she does it very well.
So glad to hear you’re feeling better about the new book! AND that you’ve embraced the planning idea – it’s a pain to have to sit down and do, I know, but it helps so much, especially when you’re sitting down for a writing session that you don’t really feel like. I usually do mine about 10K words in, when it’s started to unfold more in my head. It’s usually about 4 pages of A4 stuck to the wall in front of me, and it really helps with continuity when redrafting, too – make all the dates, etc, nice and large/highlighted! I also leave enough room to add and change bits (because that ALWAYS happens!). I’ve found it makes for a much ‘tidier’ book all round – which stops you getting reviews saying it needs an edit! Good luck with the rest – oh, and my new one is out on Tuesday!!!
Thanks T – I shan’t forget Tuesday, and yes I have read the first one of Carols and have the others (still on the TBR) but her latest is one of the ones I’ve missed recently so I’m off to get the book now – thanks for the reminder!!
I’m hoping, when I get the thing complete that I don’t look back and think I should have written it in the past after all but time will tell on that one, and if necessary I shall have to change it all again :-/
I know exactly where you’re coming from re the work at least! The writing’s the main thing, and I’ll be joining you concentrating on that for a bit now. As to the voices – people have told me my Swiss-German is ‘almost accent-free’. I’m never sure if it’s a compliment or not – my English is still decidedly Scottish! 🙂 As long as we can talk…
If we ever get to meet Linda I shall be doing my utmost to stop myself morphing into your lovely Scottish lilt!! Haha! Good luck with getting back to the writing – I am look forward to getting #4 finished off very soon 🙂
I might be more gutteral Glasgow than lovely lilt 🙂 Would be nice to meet, though!
Ahh, well as one side of my family hails originally from Paisley this is obviously where my penchant for that accent comes from – haha! I daresay we shall meet sometime 🙂
I learned to drive in Paisley – small world!
A great post G which I really enjoyed reading. I love accents but as you say it’s not easy to reflect that on paper. I’m so impressed by your work ethic and commitment. I just can’t get started I’ve not written anything other than a short story in over a year. I need an injection of whatever you have 😀
Thanks E – it’s lovely to see you here and I’m glad you enjoyed it. You have many more books out so perhaps you are just needing a break from it. If I hadn’t had this story floating around in my head for a couple of years I don’t think I would be that driven and I did faff around for months before getting on with it. I had to set the deadline otherwise I still wouldn’t have started!! I wouldn’t worry about it at all if I were you and one day you might just have the desire to reach for that pen/keyboard again!! 🙂
I’m just the same with copying accents, Georgia. Also, I often repeat what someone has said on the radio when it’s a particularly good accent that I want to try out. 🙂
Good to hear that you’ve made your timeline work, and you’re back on track with your next book.
Oh I like that idea – repeating what’s on the radio, though for me it would be podcast as I never listen live 🙂 thanks for stopping by Wendy and I’m feeling much more positive about finishing this one off now!
I was told that it is an innate desire to truly connect and empathise with the person we communicate with when we ‘mirror’ a person through behaviour e.g. slipping into their accent, crossing legs to match our companion’s crossing of legs, and so on. It can be awkward if you can’t help doing it all the time, however, I think reflects one’s very best intentions.
I remember being told at drama school by the speech dialect coach that dialects are born from the land and how pre-industrial workers dealt with tackling the soil. Where the land undulated- where there were valleys, hills, and mountains -the workers who had to navigate this type of terrain when communicating/digging the soil had voices that went up and down with inflections, and almost sang. People who worked on flatter terrain had flatter, more nasally tones (breathing being different to the exerted breath). I was told those were the roots to dialects, but today, there are many who maintain neutral accents despite being surrounded by so many. I was forever told that my accent was neutral. Even though I’m a Londoner, people would just take a calculated guess that I am a Londoner, (no strong accent to guide). The London sense of humour and sensibility gives me away more than any accent, certainly between the regions in London.
I so sympathise with the crossing of ‘tenses’ in your work. I am forever sieving my work for this. This is my first book so it is still very much a learning curve for me.
So glad to hear you’re making good progress with your next book and thank you for your support over some months sharing my blogs with your followers which I really appreciated. Happy writing and…do come up for air! 🙂
What an interesting and informative comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave it Skilbey. I shall be catching up with your lovely blog very soon and wish you well finishing off your first book.
Pleasure! 🙂 And thank you!