First-Person Voice

Writing, like any other artistic effort, requires authors to step beyond their comfort zones and try new things. Last July, I had the opportunity to explore the writings of several Turkish authors at the behest of a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding. She recommended two works and I read them both: Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love, and Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red.

I found the approach taken by these authors particularly intriguing. Each author chose to tell their tale using large swaths of text written in first person, told from the perspective of different characters. Up until this point in time, I had never thought to consider using the first-person voice to convey different perspectives in a story.

While Elif Shafak chose to combine first-person narratives with third-person prose, Orhan Pamuk chose to write exclusively in the first-person voice. I was spellbound by his decision, which even incorporated several narratives-within-a-narrative though the character of a storyteller. This storyteller told tales from a variety of perspectives, including a dog, a tree, and a gold coin.

I played with a similar technique in three of this section’s writing experiments, entitled The Universe, The Point, and The Dot respectively. I wanted to find out whether adopting a first-person approach could breathe new life into ideas that are often considered tired and staid (the Universe) or thoroughly unapproachable by many (Geometry and math).

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this technique aligns quite well with the Hermetic perspective that everything in the world is alive — imbued with an intelligence suited to its form. I chose to give the Universe, Point, and Dot personalities uniquely their own, dictated in a large part by their form (or lack thereof).

These three pieces are examples of what happens when I approach writing from a perspective of play. Those of you who write (or wish to) might even find some inspiration of your own.