It bothers me that I do not have a writing voice - or at least a consistent one that I can discern.
The good authors always seem to. One does not read a well known author - or even one that one enjoys - without getting a sense for their voice, for how they write and how they speak. Once they have it, of course, one can always recognize them no matter what genre or subject they write about. They write as themselves.
This is, I think, the apotheosis of the writer - as it is the same to for any master of any art or way of life - to be completely and total one's true self. Once one is truly one's true self, the nature of the activity does not matter: one does everything and acts in every way as the person one always is.
Some people seem to be born with this. They are simply fully themselves from their formative years on. They seem to be rare though; the remainder of us seem to stumble through life, slowly chipping away - to paraphrase Michelangelo - at everything that is not ourselves until we are revealed from the block of stone.
Part of this, I suspect, is my own fault. Even now, in my mid-fifties, I am still not quite sure what I want to do or be when I grow up. As a result, my life seems to have become a series of experiments in widely diverse different directions. Some of these things stick with me and change me; others are done for a time and then seem to fall away like the trees shedding their leaves in Autumn. It thus becomes difficult to discern "myself" amidst all of the noise of the taking in and putting off.
Nor is it particularly helpful, I suspect, that I simply cannot decide what the actual focus of my writing - and therefore my voice - will be. To some extent this seems to be a work in progress and will always be so; if I look at my writings over the year, they have slowly transitioned in tone and subject as my life has gone in its different directions. Perhaps, in this sense, it is then to be expected.
Like any budding anything, of course I will fall into the practice of imitation as well as anyone else. I will read writers who I find inspire me - Gene Logsdon or Wendell Berry or Rod Dreher or Demosthenes or Sir Walter Scott or Isocrates - and unconsciously end up imitating them (as I am sure it is self-evident to long time readers). Ultimately of course, those have to fade: no-one wants to read an imitation of the original, not even me.
But for those who find their voice, their true selves - one will recognize these people when you find them. Miyamoto Musashi was completely himself, whether in his writing, his sword school, his painting, his wood carving, his blacksmithing. To see his works in all of their varied forms is to see the man through them. Vaclav Havel was another one of these men. His writings before and his political career after - the same man shows up for both, the same man writes plays, publishes samizdat articles against the regime, and then becomes President (although not nearly successfully as as being a playwright and voice of conscience; being one's true self is not always a guarantee to success in all things). Demosthenes always speaks as Demosthenes, even though he improves his style and flourishes over time. And even in Logsdon's early-how to articles and books, you find hints of the philosopher-farmer with the sharp pen for fools and idiots and the wise advice on agrarianism.
Does it truly matter? On one hand I suppose, not at all - after all, this is essentially an ongoing project of my own making and (excluding the lifespan of the InterWeb, I suppose) has a finite date of completion one way or the other that will eventually turn up in some obscure web archive of "Blogs of the 21st Century". On the other hand, I feel like it matters tremendously - not that I would count my voice on subjects as particularly noteworthy or useful or course bending (there are others far more qualified to do that), but at least I feel my voice should ring true.
It should be my true self.
M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled and People Of The Lie, states that every person has some unique trait created in them by God for which it is His intent that they should reflect back to Him for eternity, a million million facets of the Godhead giving their glow back to Him who created Him. It matters - at least to me - that when that Day comes, I can say to God "This, to the best of my ability, was the true self You gave me. I have attempted to be it the best that I was able".