I found my voice. For many years I’ve suffered from writer’s laryngitis. My writer’s voice sounded sort of like me. But it wasn’t 100% authentic. Not really me. Close but no cigars.
When I first started writing I mimicked other writers. This wasn’t a conscious act on my part. I’ve always read a lot so when I started writing my own stuff I subconsciously channeled the authors that I liked to read. I learned to write novels by reading novels. I read for pleasure but part of me was always studying the technique, style and process the author used to tell their story. This was helpful. The hard part was erasing their voice from my head so mine could take over and tell my own stories.
The other hard part was shutting down my inner critic. The ugliest voice of all. The judge. Jury. And executioner of all things creative. The one who paralyzes. Punishes boldness. And pushes sweet dreams downward. Getting rid of that monster was essential.
It’s taken years to find my true voice. The one I’m using right now as I write this blog.
My authentic voice began to emerge in the writing of my first novel Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies. Regrettable title. But for now I’m stuck with it. The challenge with writing a novel and creating fictional characters is creating authentic real voices for them. There’s your voice, which is the over-arching narrative. And there are the voices of the people you create. This was a fascinating journey of discovery. But only the beginning.
My real voice took a foothold in 2011 when I started this blog. Post by post. Bit by bit my real voice has surfaced. Manifested. Revealed itself. And it has been a joy.
For years I’ve felt like I was speaking through a blanket. Or many blankets on some days. Let the authentic honest voice out is frightening, intimidating, awkward, and at times disturbing. But it’s also liberating, empowering, profound, and the best thing that could ever happen to a writer. Or anyone.
We all have a voice. I learned that valuable lesson last fall.
I love to sing as much as I love to write. But I’ve always been self-conscious of my singing voice. So I reserved all singing to this room, the shower, along the quiet country road that I walk at lunch and church. Then there was that one cringe-worthy performance at our wedding where I sang the love song I wrote for E. Enough said.
That moment, recorded forever on our guests’ iPhones and posted to YouTube, has haunted me. I blush at the thought. But out of that experience came the next evolution in finding my voice. I spent four months exploring the physical voice with a wonderful teacher, who not only encouraged me to sing, but to do it fearlessly. Right from the gut.
You should too.