I entered a short story in Glimmer Train's annual short story contest. No, I didn't win. But that's a good thing. Why? Because when I looked at the story again, I realized it could have been much better.
When my dad read it awhile ago, he said that he felt something was missing, but wasn't quite sure what that "something" was. I didn't, either. But when I opened the file last night, I wanted to find that "something" because this story needs to go out into the world.
After reading through it, I searched for the elusive "something." And then, it hit me. I had edited out my voice. What I read on the page wasn't me. It was my attempt to be literary and high-browed and, well, just not myself. I don't write like that. Of course, there's nothing wrong with writing that way, but my voice doesn't subscribe to it.
I began to see the story with fresh eyes and found several places where I could put my voice back "in." And it's making such a difference that I can't believe I didn't see it the first time around.
It's entirely possible to edit too much. And that's exactly what I did. It's a lesson well-learned, especially since I'm still editing my second novel. Voice is such an elusive thing that when you finally discover your own, you've got to make sure and keep it in there because that's what makes your writing yours.