Well, I have to say that I’m still shocked.

I applied for a grant months ago with the CC, thinking it might be a waste of time. I’m new to the field of writing. At the time of writing this, my first novel still waits to be released. Furthermore, I’ve heard that grants are difficult to come by. There can be hundreds, even thousands of applicants. Who am I to throw my hat into the ring?

The process isn’t easy either. The application itself requires that you articulate the premise of your novel and any new “technologies” you intend to apply. I took technology in this case to mean a “science or knowledge put into practical use to solve problems or invent useful tools.” In other words, it wasn’t about computers and apps to me. It was this understanding that might have advanced my application over others, but then who knows?

If it did, it would have been my articulation of what in literature is called voice. In my first degree, studying Neoclassical and Romantic Literature, Literature of the Modern Era, Shakespeare, and I don’t even remember what. As a Lit student, I had that thick glossary type textbook of literary devices. I no longer have it but a quick Internet search provides a similar example.

“A voice in literature is the form or a format through which narrators tell their stories. It is prominent when a writer places himself herself into words, and provides a sense that the character is a real person, conveying a specific message the writer intends to convey. In simple words, it is an author’s individual writing style or point of view.”

Okay. But how does one use this knowledge to create a unique and beguiling voice, either for a character, narrator, or even the author herself? Back in my twenties, I didn’t really get it. I probably didn’t try hard enough, which was my MO in those days. When writing Bombing the moon, I had to contend with voice in a real way. So I defined voice myself, for myself.

Voice is a person’s personal music – their unique sound.

Since I have a background in music (I play classical and jazz on piano. I even compose a little), I can apply musical knowledge to the creation of a character’s sound. This takes me beyond inventing a unique pace and rhythm, which is key, but a little limiting. I can think in terms of vowel and consonant sounds, too, as if the writing is read aloud. I can think in literal terms or metaphorical, as in fade-ins or outs, for instance. Songs often end by just decreasing in volume. Teenagers will tell you a great theory or long download of experience and then end with, “so, yeah.” Not the same thing, I know, but in my mind, similar. And that’s the fun part. It’s up to my imagination to recall musical ideas and to connect them creatively to the writing process.

As I say, I don’t know if this helped me get the grant, but it will help me write my second novel, which happens to relate to music in other ways.

Thanks Canada Council for the Arts!