Sunday, April 12, 2009

Beyond the byline.

I was listening to that new Soulja Boy Tell 'Em joint this morning (Hop up out the beeeeed, turn my swag awwwwwn, took a look in a mirror, said what's UP. Yeaaaa...) and as I turned my swag on I thought about how most people that pay any attention to hip hop or pop music will expect a certain kind of sound (his style of music, content, lack of adept lyricism etc.) when they hear a song associated with the name "Soulja Boy Tell 'Em." He could definitely grow and change as an artist and thus his sound would change - but as of now, the Soulja Boy Tell 'Em sound has been established and much of his success is due to consumers merely EXPECTING that sound when they hear his name attached to a particular song.

I thought about it and it hit me - as far as my writing is concerned, I really don't have a "sound!"

I've looked through through the things I've written through the years and it seems to me that I don't really have a particular sound, or rather, a voice. I'm missing that particular "something" that makes me stand out amongst the bevy of bloggers/writers on- and offline. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this, and looking through my work, because I have been SO UNINSPIRED lately. Boo.

It's not about a lack of things to write about. I can come up with a bunch of things to write about - and as a matter of fact, last Tuesday I attended a free article writing class at the Gotham Writers Workshop where I had to do just that. Our instructor basically had us do an idea development exercise, which we started by coming up with a long list of very general topics that we were passionate enough to write about. I was actually surprised at the number of things that came to mind as "topics I'm passionate enough to write about" - any one of them could be the focal point for an entire blog or website or publication. The exercise continued on with us developing a particular article idea from one of our more general ideas - a great exercise which left me thrilled about writing...

And the next day - nothing. I sat with a (virtual) piece of paper in front of me and came up with nothing to write about. Boo.

Since then, I've been exploring my issues and I realize that the problem is not with ideas but that I don't have a particular "thing" I'd like to be about when it comes to my writing. I don't know what makes me stand out - I don't have anything in particular to offer that's different or special than your average writer on the come-up. I have yet to come across a successful artist that didn't have that "thing" they're known for. And I believe that if I'm to be taken seriously as a writer, I need to establish my voice. What do I think I should be delivering to my readers? What should people expect when they see my name in the byline?

I guess the process of growth as an artist means developing that voice. Right about now, it has me sort of stuck.

Writing this was just my way of trying to unstick myself. If I write something here tomorrow, it means that it worked.


Jose said...

That's the first step in any growing phase: finding one's voice. When you find it, it feels really good and allows you to veer into other topics, too. Till then, let us know how it's going :-)

Anonymous said...

Kudos on this post.
It seriously made me think seriously.