Friday, January 16, 2015

Finding My Voice

You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.

Martha Graham

There are many good things in my life.  The ability to write is one of the best of them.  That’s one of the reasons I do this so much (and want to do it more) – because it’s such an amazing gift.  I am aware of its preciousness and so like a flower, I treat it delicately, and give it all the love and attention I can in order to keep it alive.  If using the word “alive” seems an odd word choice, so be it.  But what else can I call something that seems to come from nowhere?   What do I call something that seems to create itself?
Scientists may call the “unconscious,” but that doesn’t make it any less miraculous or magical.  How is that, when engaged in the creative process, the right words just seem to come?  I’m not the most brilliant guy in the world and I’ve even said some pretty dumb things, but sometimes, especially when I’m writing, I seem to be able to say just the right thing in just the right way and at just the right time.  This doesn’t mean I don’t edit or can’t improve, but sometimes I get it just right.
In pursuing our purpose, it’s more important to do something rather than worrying about getting it “right,” whatever that means.  This is why I often write without a plan.  It’s not that I’m against planning.  In fact, I love it when I have a topic picked ahead of time.  But most of the time I just sit down and start hitting the keyboard.  Sometimes I delete a lot of the content, but surprisingly fewer times than one would think.  It’s not that I think I’m a great writer who never needs to edit; it’s just that often most of what I do comes out fine the first time.  With regard to writing, I do a lot of my editing while I write, which a lot of writers say not to do.  I’m not saying my way is better; I’m just saying it’s my way.
This is one more way in which Purpose serves us:  it causes each of us to find our own way.  This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from those who have gone before us in any endeavor.  In fact, learning from others is indispensible.  My work has improved greatly by reading expert advice on writing.  We can all learn from experts in any area.  At the same time we must, each of us, make our own way.  I can borrow liberally from the work and ideas of Steven Pressfield, Stephen King or William Zinnser – and, believe me, I do – but I still have to find my own way and my own voice. 
Although the word “voice” is a writing term, anyone who is pursuing a Purpose of any kind has to find his or her own voice.  This includes teachers, painters, dancers, and even comic book artists.  I remember the story of a comic book artist who, although quite talented, copied another artist’s style quite liberally.  He was savaged for it, perhaps more than necessary, but it shook him.  He retreated for a while.  When he came back, he had a new style, one that was unique and completely his.  He found his voice and perhaps or perhaps not related or relevant, he became quite popular. 
I may still be looking for my own voice as a writer.  If that seems like another odd thing to say after two years and over 800 blogs, then so be it.    But my work hasn’t even really begun.  All of this is just the warm-up of whatever God’s plan is. Yes, I’ve done a lot, but there’s much more to do.  That ‘s how big the commitment is, maybe bigger, until I find my own voice.  Then I will really Get Started and Keep Going.