Finding Your Voice

Never having owned a beagle, when people asked if puppy Nemo had found his voice, I found the question odd.  Yes, Nemo growled, and barked–or something that passed for one.  And sometimes, Nemo even howled.  This last was charming, a serenade similar to the one our Australian Shepherd used to warble when he sang along at birthday parties.

Wide Mouth beagle.jpgThen Friday night, as I was getting ready for bed, I was jostled from the bathroom sink by the most ear-piercing, soul-rending, neighborhood-enraging sound I ever hope to hear.

Now I understood the questions.  Nemo, on a stroll down our street with my husband, had found his voice.

We have an interesting mix of dogs on our block. Onie and Raven are schnauzers who flank our house like twin sentinels.  Across and down the street are look-alike poodles, who make it clear that any other dog had better keep its distance.  At the farthest end are three mini-residents who yap for hours when grass rustles in the wind.  

To this eclectic mixture, the family across from us just added two beautiful rescue labs.  Unfortunately the labs made the difference to Nemo.  I’m sure the entire neighborhood is hoping that one day soon, there will be a lab-beagle truce.  Or that we will walk them on different schedules.

Writers have to find their voice as well.  There is a place, we’re told, where who we are, and what we have to say, along with how we say it, will mesh.  A place uniquely ours.  Our voice.  I think, sixty something novels later, I’m beginning to recognize mine. 

My voice as an author is not what I write.  My voice is present when I write cozy mysteries.  It was present when I wrote romances.  It’s clear in my women’s fiction, whether I’m writing serious stories about social injustice, like Rising Tides and Iron Lace, or stories about unlikely friendships, like Happiness Key.  My voice reflects my view of the world.  It’s my way of telling you what I see and conveying those observations through drama, humor, suspense or some eclectic mixture.

Like Nemo, my voice has always been there.  Sometimes it’s louder than others.  Sometimes it’s simply background music.  But as I’ve matured as a writer, I’ve learned that I don’t need to censor myself when I want to try something new.  In the end, whatever I write will be an Emilie Richards novel.  For good or for bad, my voice, like my beagle’s, will be heard.  You can count on it.

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