I've been finding my voice since I could speak
To date, I've received something like 15 rejections from literary agents. I'm not sure of the exact count. If I did know it, I'd obsess over it, doodle it in margins, consider it an omen when encountered in the wild. Who's got time for that? Especially when those rejections have burdened me with the very vague yet arduous task of considering my voice.
Have you guys ever heard yourselves on camera or audio? Do you hear your voice and think, "oh my God. THAT'S what I sound like?" Me too. I think most people automatically hate their own voices when they are filtered back to us through foreign devices.
Is it the same for our writing voices, though? I generally like my writing voice. I've been cultivating it as long as I can remember. Even my undergraduate writing teachers recognized this. "You've already found your voice," they'd scribble in the one-inch margins of my double-spaced text. I'd fill with light, reading that, thinking it a good thing.
What I've learned since then is that voice is subjective, and just because you've found your voice doesn't mean you've found a voice that others like or that will sell on the market.
So what's a writer to do?
Well, first you brush up on "voice," reading what you can about it in online sources as well as craft books. And, from these sources, you find that voice doesn't have a very concrete definition. It's the words you choose to use, the images you rely on, the order of your words, the length and patterns of your sentences.
So, you begin to play, seeing if you can cultivate a different voice from the one you have, a more marketable voice. And some of the play excites you and some of it makes you want to barf. And you realize that changing your writing voice is a very personal, intimate decision.
But, it's also a question of craft, of what will make your story better for the largest possible audience. And I believe that craft questions should be approached objectively, with no ego.
So you keep writing, keep experimenting, and maybe some day your voice stops its adolescent cracking and finally matures enough to reach out and grab the attention of another human being. Then, finally, your voice is powerful enough to tell the story that's been percolating behind a closed throat for so long.