Beat The Dust invited submissions for their latest literary experiment. They asked for pieces of 500 words or less, taking as the start point an end line you thought good.
I took my line from Jenni Fagan’s excellent novel The Panopticon and wrote “Again”.
It struck me how the voice I used was at once my own voice, and not my voice. It’s how I speak, sometimes. It’s not how I speak usually. It is my voice. It’s in my head. It feels comfortable, natural. It’s not how my mum sounds, but my dad and brothers do. When I go home, back to where I was raised, that voice, a blending of Essex and East London, a sweary shorthand, feels very usual. Now it’s published, and I read it back, I feel awkward in case someone thinks it’s a patronising kind of mimicry. If you meet me now I probably won’t sound like that. If we have a few drinks in the pub I may well do. (I won’t ever say “nothink” though, I hate that erroneous “k”). My dad is originally from Ireland. He speaks with a British Essex accent but if he meets up with his family his Irish accent reappears. When I was young it sounded like another language. It’s interesting, is it a fake accent or is it his voice?
Seeing as how it’s a piece of fiction anyway it shouldn’t make any odds. But it does, to me. Hence this post.
I really appreciate the work Melissa Mann does with BTD. I like how she invites us to play and stretch and keep on pushing our words. It’s an interesting journal. Oh, and I LOVED choosing my five fave intros. There would be a different five today probably.
3 thoughts on “My voice(s)”
It's great – and not at all patronising. It's a fictional observation and it has an authentic voice, a voice that exists in the real world. It is hard though when you draw on your origins for your work, it often feels like you are being patronising – I think it's because you are distant and close at the same time.
I thought it rang true – not patronising. Great story, made all the better for such a convincing voice. I think we all have dual selves and multiple voices we can call upon to access different ways to get inside a character. It messes with my head if I try to fathom it.
Cheers, Erinna and Rachel. Glad you didn't hear it as patronising. I kinda hate cultural tourism and appropriation of other people's voices if it's done in a superior mocking way. Sometimes it puts me off writing what's in my head though. Trying to lose the fear.