You have a voice that is uniquely yours. If you’re like most writers, you’re still developing it and even recognizing it. And the more you write, the clearer it gets.
Not long ago I went to a choral concert at my parent’s church, just a Sunday afternoon indulgence where my kids could experience grandmother singing along with several other ladies and gentlemen of the senior age. The concert was okay, the music fine. But I discovered something astounding that afternoon. There were over a dozen singers onstage with their voices blending in chorus. My mother wasn’t any louder than anyone else, but I could pick her voice out. I had to listen for her, but as soon as I did, there it was, the voice I’d grown up hearing. The voice that had spoken to me, scolded me, sung to me, been there each day of my childhood and part of my life for 40 something years, I could pick it out of a chorus of similar voices all singing the same.
Read enough of your favorite authors and you will do the same thing. You may not hear a tone, accent, or inflection, but the written word can have a distinguishing voice just as much as if it’s spoken. Some authors are easy, like Cormac McCarthy or Karen Hesse. If you pick up a book of either Faulkner or Hemingway you will know who it is after perhaps less than a page of reading. And he’s what these established writers have: They know who they are and what they want to say. They have at least as much confidence in this that they are able to project it onto the page, where their words are formed into a prose as unique as a fingerprint.
As a human being, you have a voice that isn’t only the audible sounds you produce. From your heart, soul, and mind comes a part of you in any form of communication, be it the words you say or write, the clothes you wear, your body language, even the scent you might choose to splash on. All of these are form of communication. And when it’s all boiled down to its basic purpose, why do we communicate? It’s more than to convey a message. We communicate in order to change behavior. Ultimately, we want our message to go out, be heard and believed. Perhaps we could even change the recipient’s thinking. And at best, we can change their behavior, change what they do.
You, the writer, have that ability.
Next time, I will tell you more of what this voice is capable of. Most writers don’t pay the bills with our writing. But that doesn’t mean we’re not writers and it doesn’t mean we won’t carry our voice out into the world.
This week, write something that no-one will ever see. Use a pen and paper if you want so you can shred or burn it if you feel the need at the end. Write from the deepest, most primal voice you have. Filter nothing. It may start out as a dirge or a cry for something you feel you want or need. But give it time and a few pages. See what begins to appear, then tell yourself who you are. There is your voice, unfiltered.
If you’re bold enough, post it to your blog and link it in the comments section. We would all love to see the id crying out in us all.
Sometimes I close reminding you to write good sentences. Don’t focus on that this time. Go exclaim.