I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but it’s only recently that people have been telling me that they “love my voice.” I took the compliments and felt honored by them, but didn’t really understand. What was “my voice” and why was it only now coming through so strongly. It wasn’t until I started to compare my work now to older work, and where and who I am now compared to times in the past, that I finally saw what people were talking about. My writing has developed a personality all its own, a voice that yearns to tell the stories it hears kicking around in my head, and tell them in a way that highlights all of the things that I find significant.
Finding my voice as a writer was actually all about accepting who I am, all of who I am – the goofy, inappropriate, awkward, blunt, honest, atypical, exuberant, moody, defiant, stubborn, passionate whole – and giving myself permission to share that with the world. I use the word permission very specifically because I had been taught from a young age; I think we are all taught, that we need to conform. Don’t be so loud, don’t draw attention, don’t be weird . . . because heaven forbid someone should know that you’re an individual and have a personality. Scary!
But this is what I was taught, so that is how I lived. Being me was “wrong”. Occasionally I would forget, but there was always someone there to shoosh me back into the box . . . where I was miserable. I had no voice because I had no access to who I truly was, and with no voice I would get so frustrated that I couldn’t see straight. I could see my inherent talents, and I could sense my inherent passions, but I was so focused on making sure that what I was doing was “right” that everything I did was wrong. I knew it every second of every day, and knowing that I was wrong made me hesitant to use what voice I had because I was afraid of being rejected for the person that I didn’t want to be in the first place.
It wasn’t until I realized that I was spending all of my time and energy perfecting a person that I didn’t want to be that I finally started to reevaluate what exactly was so “wrong” with who I was. I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. What was wrong was that I had listened for so long to all of the people who insisted on pigeon holing me into what they perceived to be “right”. It was then that I realized that I had no need for those people in my life. I had no need for people who made me feel ashamed for living a life of passion and joy and risks. There are people in this world who love me for living those ideals. Those are the people that I needed in my life and it was with those people that I tested my real voice. It was with those people that I learned to scream it to the rafters. And when I was done, they weren’t cringing, embarrassed by my display. They were smiling and laughing with me.
The next thing I knew, I was writing. I was writing more than I ever had in my life, and I loved what I was writing. I felt strong and courageous as I let my characters sweep me away in their story. I bared my soul to them and they did the same in return. They share with me their deepest, darkest desires and secrets and I try to honor them by being brave enough to put them down for all to read. They live and breathe by my pen, and I live and breathe for them. In creating them, I have found myself. I have found my voice.