8 Jun

I walk, most nights, home alone, in the delicious moist air of near summer. I should spend the time writing, in my head. Plotting and thinking and compiling. But I don’t. I find it hard to cobble together coherence, to mold experience and wisdom from the clay that surrounds me.

I should have a voice.

This rattles around my head most days, as I’m reading, as I’m studying how someone else builds a story, creates a person from ink and wood fibre, until they stand, firm behind them, holding their hands out with nameplates and short bios. I should know how to create this, how to parse wisdom and hope into the mouths of those people I create.

Farce. I cannot do this. My people are dry, and tired, throwing themselves into the wind to inject some sort of life, a false vibrancy into their fragile limbs.

Where is my voice?

Perhaps I have not been sufficiently humbled, or have yet to find the way, the one way, the encouraged way, to hold those limbs up myself, give them blood and tissue. Maybe I’ve been afraid to open my fingers and let loose these dogs, these people, these creations.

Maybe there’s a honesty that even I flee from, much as the voice itself cowers in a corner, just out of sight. I know you’re there little one….I just can’t draw you out. Perhaps my voice has gone feral with fear.

Why my voice? Why?

Year after year, I’ve heard that I have this agile talent, hoarded inside me, some sort of natural gift to put one word before the other so it paints visions in the eyes of others. Somehow, I’ve taken this to mean it should be easy, that I should produce my version of a Pollack or a Carr without thought, or effort or struggle.

But does art need struggle? Does my voice need more of a battle to come out? Do I need to succumb to the oft cited myth that manic depressives make better artists because they’re sensitive and broody and willing to cast loose into their illness? Is my problem that I’m holding to or not letting go?

The urge is here-the quivering, jelly like drive to work-to write, to produce. Yet the voice behind the will-it’s missing. The thoughts, they scatter in my mind, seeds on wind, impossible to catch in hand.

Voice? Can we put you back together?


7 Responses to “Voiced”

  1. Jen June 9, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    The thing about voices is that you can’t force them and the harder you try to find it, the more it hides.
    Also? I don’t know about your fiction but your poetry has a voice and your essays have a voice so I would imagine maybe you’re being harder on yourself than you need to be.

    The last time I wrote a poem (for stupid class) I wrote it in open and closed forms and it was literally the first time in a decade I liked one of my poems because I could see how awkward it could have been in another form. Maybe try that with voices?

  2. Marcy June 9, 2009 at 7:53 am #

    Could it be your voice is waiting for the right story or genre?

  3. Bon June 9, 2009 at 8:26 am #

    more and more, i believe that for most of us, writing is craft. there are a few, the Jonathan Safran Foers or whatever his name is, who sit down at 19 and have a beautiful story pour out. but for the majority of us, even with talent, even with voice(s), it takes the sitting and struggling and the living and the reflecting.

    i tell myself this, at least. because i know otherwise i will never have a voice.

  4. sweetsalty kate June 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    You know what this reminds me of? Bon’s fascinating ‘Pretty’ post. You’ve always been told you can string words and bewitch with them. And so it shouldn’t be work. With people telling you this (as my parents so liberally told me, as well) it’s a very fast ride to demoralization, when those words don’t cooperate. We get all diva-like. We give up too soon.

    When it feels this way for me, it helps to snap at myself to get the hell out of the way. I’m standing at the front trying to direct them all, willing them to snap to attention, rather than stepping back and watching what they do on their own.

    Whever I get blocked, it’s that. It’s that I’ve been inserting myself in between the story and the telling of it. I need to get out of my own way.

    All that, but you DO have a voice. You’re incredibly distinct. You can do this.

  5. Gabriel... June 11, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    Ninety-nine point nine percent of people with manic depression can’t even make a better muffin. If you “cast loose” into anything, ANYTHING, I will kick you in your ovaries.

  6. thordora June 11, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    Not to worry Gabe. That won’t happen.

  7. kelly June 12, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    You have a voice? How do I know? I hear it. I’m listening. It touches me. The writing life is not a charmed one. I think we all struggle with this, vacillating between I can, or I should, but I am afraid I won’t, or I can’t. I have felt literally sick every time I turn to my blog these days. I am lost in this complete void of I have no right to put words to paper. It is killing me. I just keep telling myself that I have to write through it. I have to post through it. No matter what I put out there, it is better than not writing at all. Because to write well, we have to write often. So, onward with shitty drafts, and half-finished thoughts. They are all necessary steps.

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