Monday, December 01, 2008

On Finding My Voice...

You probably noticed I'm writing a lot more often on my blog lately. That's not without purpose. I've decided to let this be a sort of lab for me as writer...a place to try things on or try them out, explore approaches to this or that idea, and if I can, find the flow in it. So, welcome to my process, laid out for the world to see. Not that the world is watching...which, I've also decided, is probably a good thing.

I'm looking for my voice as a writer. It's like a frequency...a particular cadence of the drum. It is still elusive to me. Right now, I have it, in part--but only loosely, fragilely. I imagine it's something like learning to surf. My wave keeps rolling past beneath me and I am unsure how to catch it. Or to let it catch me.

I know something of its nature, if only fleetingly: To be eloquent without sounding pretentious, and vulnerably present to myself as well as to those who care to read; To be at once able to be in my experience and describe it from 10,000 feet up. Those are qualities I can relate to as a writer, and want more of. My struggle comes from losing connection to myself in the heights. Looking down, I see not only my own soul, but a millions souls. I hear all their voices, and in the chorus sometimes, perhaps often, my own voice is lost. I begin trying on other voices I hear, seeing if they fit, if they are me. But though sometimes close, they are not quite satisfying. I lose myself in the cacaphony of the world.

Emperor penguins locate their young by their distinctive squawk. This would not seem all that miraculous if you did not know that some of their colonies can number in the tens of thousands...and that, in this city of penquins, all parents and youth alike are continually squawking. It's in this frenetic mass of bodies and noise that a parent penguin must somehow pluck out of the madness the singular cry of his single child. And yet this is how he finds him, time and again.

That's miraculous to me. I suppose you could say I'm looking for the same sort of miracle in my art. I want to develop the miraculous skill of hearing my own song and following its thread wherever it leads--and this, in a sea of six billion voices singing six billion songs, all at once, and all at me.

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