I think my greatest fear as a writer isn't to be misunderstood but to be cliche. It's actually quite a vain fear if you think about it. Considering the case in a purely logical, mathematical way, there are no combination of words that haven't already been crafted and cobbled together, so really, everything that can be said is in essence somewhat cliche. As a writer I have this egotistical need for my words to be hailed as unique. I want to speak to those who have not spoken.
I've been thinking about this because I'm working on (struggling through) writing a novella that I felt was unique...until I re-read it after letting it sit for a few months. Let's just say there were more than a few cringes and moans. My protagonist could not have sounded more like a whiny teenage girl than well...a stereotypical teenage girl. I resolved to make her more sophisticated, less self-aware. Yet as I went over a re-write with my writing partner that I thought had stepped up the character and the language, she countered that now the draft felt flat, pedestrian, that it had lost it's voice, its interiority, its flavor. It stopped sounding like a teenage girl. And wasn't that the point, she countered, to be completely inside that experience?
I find that I'm afraid of that voice. The sticky, self-loathing, awkward 15 year-old that still lives somewhere inside me. So I decided to change it, make it into someone else, someone whom I was more comfortable with.
But really, it's just not right.