I love taking photos—particularly of flowers—and took a few the other day. And my phone just got some filters added to the pictures, so I played with them a little.
Although I did like some (vivid cool is appealing), in the end, I think I liked the “real” unfiltered flowers best. They seem truer to me, and the memory is “real” when I see those colors (except for one pink one which is a blue. I don’t know why (well, scientifically it’s to do with wave lengths and such), but that shade of blue is so hard to capture!
I did find I liked the filtered building, though—it gave the shadows more definition I think.
So how does this tie into writing? I think it’s the difference between when an author follows her own voice and when she puts on another. Not when she’s voicing different characters with different attitudes—that is necessary and should be true to the character. But when the overall writing is forced as if she’s trying to follow a pattern put down by someone else rather than making her own path.
Voice is something authors debate intensively. I’ve been in those discussions! Still, when it’s right, there is a sense of effortlessness to the flow. It’s natural, realistic, vivid, crafted, but real. And when there’s too much tweaking—too much filtering—that’s when I can potentially admire the writing without experiencing it.
But enjoy Georgia O’Keefe, waterlilies, and early autumn at the Bronx Botanical Gardens if you get the chance!