Have you ever noticed that, now and then, a really good new writer will appear on the scene with the sfnal equivalent of fireworks? They get people’s attention right from the start. People seek out their work, talk about it, it comes to the attention of awards judges and publishers alike. Not too surprising; sometimes really good writers appear as if sprung from the head of Zeus, fully grown, armored, and ready. Never mind how long they spent working and improving their craft; that’s between the writer and his or her word processor. So far as the rest of us are concerned–poof! there they are. Actually it is a little surprising. Because in this field, being “really good” isn’t good enough and never has been. Being “really good” and working hard will usually get you published regularly and well, but it doesn’t bring you the kind of attention I’m talking about here. What does? After much thought and discussion, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is: voice.
Now, don’t misunderstand this: it’s almost certainly necessary for such a writer to be “really good” (though better of course to be like Kelly Link, arguably a genius) for all this to happen. But it’s not enough. Neither is “voice,” for that matter, at least when considered by itself. There’s more to it, as there usually is. Continue reading