A Word (and please don’t copy and paste)

One of the first things you learn about when transitioning from writer to author is a little thing called persona. In short, everything you post to social media works together to present an image to your reading public. Your persona will depend on your level of comfort – how much you want the world to know about you – but it should be authentic. Your readers don’t have to know everything, but they want to know you.

If I chose to present myself as a slightly snarky, word-loving,  genuine beauty-seeking woman who adores her quirky family while writing books, homeschooling several grade levels, trying desperately to keep everything from unraveling, and when all my efforts seem in vain, falling back on the grace of Jesus and everyone else in my life, I could do so with a clear conscience and utter authenticity. If, however, I tried to present myself as a peppy mom who’s never late and always brings snacks that are healthy, delicious, and pretty, a woman who always knows the right platitudes and accessories and never calls “b.s.” or closes her hymnal halfway through a song because she just isn’t feeling it… That, my friends, would not be authentic, and those who know me well would be fully within their rights to laugh uproariously at my attempted deception and ask which of my children had hacked my social media accounts.

Which brings me almost to the point of this post.

There’s another thing we writer/author folks learn very early on, and that is voice. Some would say it can’t be taught – either you have it or you don’t. It’s that almost intangible thing that tells you right away that you are in the care of Jane Austen or Lemony Snicket or whichever author awakens your senses within the first paragraph of a book. A writer’s voice is, in large part, what makes a reader fall in love. It’s magic, my friends.

And here’s the point of my post: You have a voice. An authentic, honest-to-goodness voice.

You might not have a voice that will hold readers captive for 80,000 words, but you have a voice. To those who love you, your voice is unique. Please use it. Please don’t copy and paste someone else’s voice.

Some days, it seems I read more “copy and paste” posts on Facebook than I do actual posts penned by people I know. Most of the time, I know by the end of the first line that it isn’t original, that a stranger wrote the words you’re sharing. They might be lovely words. They might express important sentiments.

But it isn’t your voice, and so I stop reading. I log on to hear the voices of the ones I love, to understand their stories, not to read regurgitated thoughts, however eloquent they may be.

So, please try. Try to put it in your own words. If that’s too much, preface the copied portion with your own thoughts, in your words, in your beautiful, honest, lovely, familiar voice. I don’t care if your vocabulary isn’t as polished as another’s, if you have a misplaced comma or an abundance spelling errors. I love grammar, but believe it or not, I don’t visit Facebook for its highfalutin grammar.

I’m asking you, friend to friend, to share your thoughts, to unburden your heart, to raise your voice.

Just please…

Don’t copy and paste.

 

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