Writing: Integrity of the Author’s Voice

Posted: May 27, 2009 in Marquesate, Military Gay Erotic Fiction, Publishing, Writing


I have been privy to many a conversation, discussion and plain annoyed rant about the simplification and standardisation of the author’s art (words! voice! style!) as it is employed by numerous publishers.

I shall not name any names nor point any fingers, but this topic really is extremely close to my heart. The policy to “de-was” by many publishers is not only shocking, but also ridiculous, and basically results in a text that has no “was”. I assume that every reader can easily imagine what a sad and simplified text that would be, if the author’s craft is taken away and instead maimed and mangled into a misunderstood mould of what language should look like.

Writing is Art. As much or as little as painting or singing or drawing or sculpting or any creative endeavour that taps into the richness of the creator’s imagination and allows us to see the world through the artist’s eyes.

Language is Art. Language is the tool of the writer as Artist, like the colour palette and the brushes are for the painter. You reduce the tools to a standardised minimum and your colourful painting, bursting with life and emotions, is turned into a poor caricature of its self.

Authors should have a distinctive  voice. If they don’t then they are no artists, but as mass produced as a Hollywood plastic surgeried “beauty”, to please the masses. The integrity of the author’s voice is more important to me than anything else, and part of this integrity is the choice to write what I want to write and what I strongly feel about writing, and not anything/something as sterile as “the market” might demand. That’s not art, that’s a cheap sell-out.

Because this is what makes literature fascinating, versatile and rich; this is what gives every reader something to like or to dislike. This is what Art is, to express oneself, and to find one’s artistic integrity.

As for what this means for Marquesate: I rather be less commercially successful than sacrifice the integrity of my writing and thus my Art. Take it or leave it, like my writing or dislike it, but this is a promise.

  1. clare london says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s particularly topical as I’ve just had the ‘was’-s pointed out in my partial by an editor, as if they need expunging. To be fair, not as if they should all go, but as if I should use them less.

    I understand the power of language and how it can be used to greatest effect. I should learn the best ways of doing this – the best tools and methods for the type of story I’m writing. I appreciate that I’m not always the best critic or editor for my own work, to help it reach its best potential.

    But on the other hand, the words come from me and I know the ones I want to use, and the effect I’m aiming for. Sometimes that means ignoring the usual convention or creating something that sounds right even if it’s conjugated inaccurately. I mean, it’s deliberate, not careless or poor technique.

    On one last point, I find this common between US/UK English. There are differences, not just between the vocabulary but the use of tenses and phrasing.

    ‘Distinctive voice’ – as you say – is all. And let’s face it, is the only thing we can create with confidence at the end of the day!

  2. Marquesate says:

    Exactly! Well said, Clare. I must say I value my integrity higher than anything. I do believe that if one sticks to one’s guns it’ll be worthwhile in the end.

    Of course, a good editor makes the text better, there is no doubt, but it should about polishing the gem and not about changing it.

  3. sequelguerrier says:

    This may sound naive but what is wron with ‘was’? It seems to me there is a perfectly good gramatical reason for using ‘was’ isn’t there?

  4. Marquesate says:

    Yup, the crazy thing with the de-wasing is that one isn’t supposed to write “he was walking along he pavement” but “he walked along the pavement”, no past progressive. Utterly ridiculous! As if the past progressive turned a sentence passive. Also, what is wrong with the occasional passive construction if it fits? Nothing. Language is the tool of the writing artist.

  5. E.R. says:

    Right on! This is so true.

    It’s like the old adage “No adjectives or adverbs”. Pullease. Take Edgar Allan Poe and take out all the adj. and adv. and see what’s left.

  6. Marquesate says:

    Hi E.R. nice to “meet” you on my blog. 🙂

    It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Really like taking colours away from a painter.

  7. […] June 10, 2009 by Marquesate This is a very interesting question, and one that clearly has no definitive answer, only answers that are right for every individual author. I guess you can imagine which answer is right for me, certainly after my post on the integrity of the author’s voice. […]

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