My Voice

RCA microphoneIf the pen is mightier than the sword, it is also mightier than my vocal chords.  At least, I think mine is.

Once upon a time when most of my year was spent in the classroom, my vocal chords got a good work out.  School not only involves teaching, it also involves lots of meetings.  As a classroom teacher my vocal chords developed quite well.  I remember dreading the first day or so of school–not because it meant getting back into a routine (admittedly, I’m not a big fan of routines), nor because it meant seeing my students again (I love and miss them still . . . at least most of them); but because it meant I’d have a wicked sore throat after talking more in one day than I did in all of break.  It took a day or two before my vocal chords settled into a new routine and I truly found my voice again.

I’m finding the same is happening with my writing.  After a few months of unplanned hiatus from regular writing, getting back into the swing of things is a bit uncomfortable.  I know it will become easier as I keep at it.  I know if my journal got a better workout, my other writing would be more a part of me again.

The thing with finding your voice is that it takes practice.  When I write, I have to ask, “Is that how I would really say that?”  I want people to read something and have no doubt about who wrote it.  I want the reader to be able to pick up a scrap of my writing and say, “That’s so Sheryl.”

Finding my voice in other areas of my life has taken practice, too.  Speaking in front of a crowd or a classroom is all the same to me–it feels right and good.  I figure if someone invited me there, they probably thought I had something to say.  Somewhere along my way, I’ve lost sight of that on a personal level.  It’s much more intimidating for me to talk to a small group or an individual who isn’t very close to me about most things than it is to talk to a larger group–especially if I need to initiate.

I’m working on it.  Sometimes my words are harsher than I intend.  Sometimes they’re more condescending than they are conciliatory.  Sometimes they’re just too soft, and they go unheard.

In many ways it’s easier to find my voice on the computer screen.  I can write, and then I can delete and start over.  My voice doesn’t have that luxury.  I can mute and apologize, but there’s no delete.  The best I can hope for is a gift of grace from the hearer–the kind of grace that encourages me to keep speaking.

I’m working on making my voice heard bit by bit.  How’s your voice?

 

photo courtesy of NFSA Australia

 

 

Today I’ve joined the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam. Every week Bonnie’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith and life related topic. This is my riff on “Finding My Voice.” I’d love to read your thoughts on the topic. Please leave a comment or a link to your blog if you’ve jammed on this. And if you haven’t blogged on it, please leave some of your thoughts in the comment section below. If you’re interested in seeing what others had to say, please follow the link over to the Faith Barista site.

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8 Responses to “My Voice”

  1. Beth Werner LeeSeptember 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    I so get what you say, having taught a bit in the classroom setting and now all day homeschoolng my daughter. But my writing voice comes in moments of inspiration, and in response to writing prompts like Faith Barista and Gypsy Mama. So, I don’t know. I’ve been pretty lucky on the writing voice, because others who know me tell me they hear it, but I don’t think about it, myself. To hear myself think sometimes I need to get away, go sailing or driving…too busy? Anyway, thanks for posting in the jam.

  2. SherylSeptember 30, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, Beth! It’s good to jam with you. You’re so correct! The prompts do help. I’m thankful Bonnie posts hers a week or more out. I have to let ideas roll around in my head a bit before I can usually write. There are moments of inspiration for sure, but I find about half of mine come from perspiration. I have to get an idea down and evaluate it. More often than not, it means lots of deleting and rewriting. It’s a good process no matter how it happens.

  3. CarmenOctober 11, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    This is a great post, I am too a teacher and at the beginning of term I always get a sore throat from voice strain! I am the same, I have idea running around in my head sometimes days before i get round to writing anything. All I can say that the compputer is a blessing and makes it so much easier to editing what I first think of. Thanks for the post 🙂

  4. SherylOctober 12, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Carmen! It’s good to know I’m not alone in this boat. The computer is so much better than the typewriter!. Oh–those were the days!

  5. Josh TuckerOctober 13, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I resonate with this quite a lot.

    Writing is both very easy and quite difficult for me. Once I’m in the groove, it just comes, and it’s easy. It’s something I’ve always been very good at. But it can be very hard for me to get to it, to the point that, as much as I want to, I hardly ever write. I want to write a lot; instead, I write every couple months, at best.

    I believe this is due to a combination of two factors. The first of these is laziness, in that it takes a significant time commitment for me to write anything (not because I write slowly, but because I don’t do short). It’s easier to put it off and, especially, to simply keep doing whatever it is I’m doing at the moment, than it is to get myself going and spend 2-3 hours writing. I end up wasting time on Facebook, and the various rabbit trails my awesome friends launch me on with the content they share, instead of writing.

    The second factor, which in a way simply compounds the first, is that the subjects I want to tackle can often seem daunting; I think about the things I want to write, and I experience both a feeling of eagerness to write them (or perhaps more accurately, at this point, eagerness to have written them), and also a feeling of dread regarding toward starting the process.

    The result is this: More than two years ago, I began the process of writing about a spiritual journey I’ve been through over the last several years. It is a bit of a lengthy process, requiring at least six different blog entries. 25 months later, I’ve still only written Parts I and II.

    Perhaps the solution is as simple as the Barney Stinson approach to dealing with sadness: “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead.” Perhaps the only way to fix the problem is to simply stop it. Perhaps the only way to be better at writing more is simply to write more — and being in practice will make it easier to do.

  6. SherylOctober 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    You’ve hit that proverbial nail on the head–many of them in fact. Writing shorter pieces is difficult (unless you’re Braden–somehow he had it down!). Distractions are death for writing. Because it is work–and I generally do it on the computer while it’s online–it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole. (And I’m very glad you get distracted over here!) I think the key to the daunting subject matter is breaking it up into smaller chunks. You may have notes and ideas on the whole topic, but take bite sized pieces of it and write about them. this also lets your readers take bites and digest them instead of trying to cram a whole feast into their face holes. The key to writing is really to keep plugging away at it. I still think readers who write make the best writers. You can do it, Josh. You are amazing. Your work will be amazing. I can hardly wait to read it.

  7. Josh TuckerOctober 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    “I think the key to the daunting subject matter is breaking it up into smaller chunks. You may have notes and ideas on the whole topic, but take bite sized pieces of it and write about them. this also lets your readers take bites and digest them instead of trying to cram a whole feast into their face holes.”

    Want to know the funny part? I thought I was already doing that. Still, my last post on “Faith in Doubt” was 21 paragraphs long, a good number of which were fully Tucker-length paragraphs. Printed out, it’s almost four pages. I suppose that’s not exactly short. If you get the chance at some point, could you take a look at this, and maybe this as well, and tell me if you think I could break those up further? Brevity has always been my biggest challenge as a writer. I’ll try and see if there’s a way that I can break my six parts up into even smaller chunks.

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