“So it goes.”

It’s a simple phrase.

Three words. A catchphrase, of sorts. Almost insignificant. And yet it perfectly demonstrates the magnificence of Vonnegut’s exceptional “writer’s voice.”

I’m still forging ahead. I took a little time off around the holidays (couldn’t you tell?). And I reluctantly embraced some long-avoided but necessary technological advances—namely a smartphone and a new(er) computer— which brought with them some setbacks to my workflow and productivity. But I’m back.

Story is coming along. Cranked out a long avoided chapter today that wasn’t easy to write. Probably still need lots of work, but it’s written.

Generally speaking, characters are coming along nicely. They are developing in ways that I like and, in turn, they’re starting to carry the story. I’ve had several 5-10 page days and when I do, they happen sort of effortlessly. So I’ll count my blessings.

But then I start thinking about that pesky “voice.” As in, I’m afraid I don’t have one. Or that it’s inconsistent, or undefined. Or that it just plain sucks.

When I go back to reread various sections, sometimes I like what I hear, sometimes I don’t. Other times I’m not sure if I hear anything at all…except words and a hollow narrative. Those are the times that “So it goes” echoes deep in the back of my head.

I hear it because it’s a perfect of example of writer’s voice and how great a role it actually plays in the telling of any story. Plot, character, theme, setting—sure, we know these are vital elements in storytelling. But voice, now that’s one that always gets glazed over in creative writing classes. Oh, they’ll make mention of it, even call it out in certain writer’s works. But when it comes to defining it, refining it, even understanding it? Nada.

All I know for sure is that of all the great things about Slaughterhouse-Five (about all of his greatest novels in fact) it is Vonnegut’s stellar, captivating voice that sticks with me and stands out above all the other elements. The stories are fine. Characters are crafted, sure. Plots are ok, nothing particularly gripping though.

But they way he tells the story? The way he speaks? Unparalleled. Remarkable. Extraordinary.

A close friend once aptly described his affinity for Vonnegut by simply saying, “I just like hanging out with the guy.” Like we’d sat around and sipped cream sherry with ol’ Kurt while he read his latest work just to us. Cat’s Cradle? Breakfast of Champions? Deadeye Dick? That’s exactly how it feels. “Good story,” I said, “Thanks Kurt.”

Not that I’m trying to be Vonnegut. I mean, my God, who could? Why bother?
But I sure do wonder if I’ll ever believe I’ve found and established my voice. And, more importantly, if anybody will ever “like hanging out with me.”

“So it goes.”

I love it. But sometimes it really pisses me off.

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