If finding my writing voice is about as hard as finding the perfect pair of jeans (and as life changing), then somewhere in the world of writing and blogging, there has to be the equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction.
There is. I’ve done some thinking. I’d like to share three lessons every writer can learn from wardrobe malfunctions.
Before anything else, let’s get one thing straight –
not all wardrobe malfunctions are equal.
I’m sure the first thing you thought about was the Janet Jackson episode. It was epic. It was wardrobe malfunction on a grand scale, recorded for all the world to see… over and over and over. (It’s still on YouTube. I just checked.) It may or may not have been intentional. It may or may not have revived a sagging career.
The same formula seems to have been repeated by other stars who conveniently forget to wear their big girl pant(i.e.)s while climbing out of S.U.V.’s. Sigh.
On the other end of the scale are the wardrobe malfunctions in your own life… and mine.
Never had one?
Sure you have.
Ever broken a high heel on the way to the stage? (Did that in high school.)
Ever worn the wrong bra to the gym and realized it partway through aerobics? (Did that last month.)
Ever popped a button on a blouse? (Done that so often I’ve lost count.)
Ever had a zipper failure? (Did that last Sunday at church.)
Ever worn a wrap-around skirt? (Yep. Right on the front row of church when I was in Junior High.)
Ever looked down mid-afternoon to realize you were wearing two different shoes? (Um… yes.)
Wardrobe malfunctions are a part of life.
There’s three important lessons from them that apply to writing.
1. They are unavoidable. Even if it’s as benign as a wedgie, they happen. Everyone gets them.
2. Grace and confidence matter. For the little malfunctions, most people won’t notice or remember our discomfort if we handle it with grace and confidence. On the other hand, if we run around yelling about how embarrassed we are, we make sure everyone notices.
3. Proper foundations matter. As mortified as I was when the tie broke on my wrap around skirt (the whole skirt dropped to the floor right in front of the pastor), I would have been ten thousand times MORE embarrassed if I hadn’t been wearing a slip.
So what’s a writing malfunction?
Just like their wardrobe cousins, I believe that they aren’t all created equally.
Some of them are epic. They’re played out publicly when a writer steps in it, whether intentionally or not. Sometimes, writers publish things that are misunderstood, that are unintentionally hurtful, or that are just plain controversial.
Some of them are everyday. They happen to all writers.
Wandering stream of conscious rants.
Loss of voice.
Mixed points of view.
Just plain bad editing.
Because they’re inevitable, make sure you’ve got a good foundation to fall back on. Have a solid foundation of quality to shield you from prying eyes and pointing fingers.
When they do happen, respond with grace and confidence.