I never thought I would suffer from writer’s block. As a nonfiction writer, questions are the air I breathe. And questions call out for stories to answer them. But for about a year, since my last published piece, words fail me. I don’t know how to tell anyone about it when a story pops up.
Writers talk about finding their “writing voice.” What is that? It’s nothing like a singing voice, or a classroom voice, or a commanding voice.
For me, the writing voice is a trance state. A trance state in which words come to me – or rather through me. The words that I find feel like they find me. They vibrate perfectly in an imaginary ear out there, the ear of a reader who needs to hear this story, needs that question answered.
The reader with the imaginary ear is, of course, imaginary, imagined by me.
It’s not easy being an imaginary reader. She works hard, instantly pinging back words she doesn’t like, or doesn’t perfectly understand. You want your imaginary reader to hold you to a high standard.
But, when it works, when I’m in the groove, the give-and-take with my reader is transcendent. I vanish into the work. It’s incandescent. Perhaps addictive.
That’s what I can’t do lately. I’ve lost my voice. I have literary laryngitis.
The imaginary reader who makes you a better writer is not something I came up with. I’ll post some links on the idea, and how various writers use it.
It’s probably all the fault of editors. But that’s a topic for another post.
Hey. Thanks for listening.