We’ve all been challenged at some point in our lives to answer the question; who am I? Answer can be as simple as the obvious or they can stretch the imagination of who we believe we truly are. Isn’t that part of the aspect of finding oneself? A simple answer may not always cut it in today’s modern society where people are searching for more and won’t accept less than satisfaction.
This is true for books as well. Reading books from the early 20th century is a great way to get a feel for classic literary works but also to be able to discover some forgotten prose. The way we write and speak changes with each generation and it can seem subtle when talking to peers but to crack open a book from 100 years ago and that change is blatant. Still, in that time those writers had a voice, an identity, that carried them through the years and gave them a lasting legacy.
So what about us? I can’t, nor will I try to, speak for anyone else but I think the idea holds true for many of us. As writers our identities and voices will develop over time and through the pages of our work. IT’ll be what we are known for after the books, articles and the bogs we create. Sure I may be known as a great fantasy author one day but beyond that my identity will be something deeper. I’d like it to resonate with readers in 100 years just like the works of Verne, Le Guin, Howard, Hugo, Shelley and Wells resonate with me and others today. It isn’t just that their written words are important or powerful, it’s also that their personality shines through those words, their voice. Sure there are many other authors that have conveyed legacy earning words in the last few generations but these are the first authors that popped into my head.
It’s not so much in what they write but instead what they are saying that gives them the lasting legacy. Its the impact of the stories and how we, generations later, are able to perceive them. That’s part of the identity, the voice identity. Many of the early science fiction writer can be described as ahead of their time. Sure, the vast majority of the populace of their day did not have anywhere near the amount of scientific knowledge that we have now but they did have an imagination. That imagination was fueled on by the forefathers and foremothers of the literary world. To this day we talk about their contributions to the craft because, like the people 100 years ago, we are captivated by the visuals they gave us.
What then can we do to further develop our own legacies and voice? How can we become the type of writer that we ourselves look up to? The simple answer is that we have to write and write as often as we can. Voices develop over time and drafts improve with practice. Not only that, which is the obvious part, but ideas develop and improve over time. To write a story based on one plot or a few characters and that is an accomplishment in itself but the subsequent books after that will see the plot go into deeper territory, possibly into something profound. I’ve read many stories as of late that go into social territories and reach for deeply controversial issues. The authors of these works let their books be a platform for change, for bringing issues to light or for what they feel might help others. Their legacy is tied into the machinations of the cultural and societal emotions of the time. Others try to bring forth something bright to help the readers find another place or world outside of the negative surroundings they might be experiencing.
In all of this we find the voice identity. Who we are as writers. Who am I as a writer? I haven’t a clue just yet. I thought I knew but I’m finding that I’m changing as of late. All I know is that I’m a sci-fi/fantasy writer, a husband, a father, a coffee and cigar lover, an amateur “chef”, and someone that wants to be able to provide some good words and feelings to the world.