Last night was the first event of the Inprint Reading Series 2012-13 season and was it ever a success. Junot Díaz, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, read from his new book, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER, to a packed house. He was engaging, funny, gritty, honest. And when he read, he used the inflections of a reader—not the massaged, monotonous cadence that so many authors seem to think is the correct way to deliver their unique voices unto an audience. Sounding like a reader instead of a writer is consistent with his idea of writing for readers instead of other writers.
Someone asked, what’s the best way for a writer to develop a unique voice? Consider the ethos of reading, he said. Writers can be competitive, and so there’s less freedom to be expressive on the page. Forget the writers and focus on the readers. Readers are beautiful, generous people who are much smarter and more tolerant than some writers give them credit for. They are always happy to see us, happy to be reading. They will put up with dozens of mistakes. If the plot falls apart, they will put it back together in their own minds. And if they love a book, nothing will dislodge that love. So write for them, freely, and your voice will emerge.