UN-STIFFLING MY VOICE

May 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm 7 comments

WARNING: Long Winded Post Ahead

Here’s the scary thing, I’ve been putting a filter on my voice. You know that one thing that you have that is uniquely yours and that will ultimately get you published. Yeah, I’ve been doing that, which also means I’ve been stiffling my funny. Double yeah, I’ve been shooting myself in the foot. I haven’t been letting go, which to me is the true way to find your voice.

So my homework was to change this passage to something that sounded more like me(or even more like the heroine. I’d be fine if I hit either goal). I can say it wasn’t an easy task at first. Well, of course until I let loose. Here’s the opening passages I had to fix:

“I need to read your cards.” Shelise, my best friend, said.

It was barely eight o’clock and my morning was already taking a downward spiral to hell. We never said it out loud, but I didn’t believe in tarot or auras. It had nothing to do with my fanatical religious upbringing. What she did, and what she believed was one of the many lines uncrossed in our friendship.

“You haven’t done one for me since high school.” I countered, trying to side step the mine field called The Direction of This Conversation. I came here to clean up her business ledgers, not to get the name of my one true love.

Besides that these passages read like a big ol’ infodump, it just reads flat. This little piece right here is supposed to make a reader want to read on. So, let’s reinterate shooting self in foot. This is the change:

“You know you offered fate a challenge yesterday?” Shelise said.

I ignored her by taking another sip from my espresso. Me, being the good person I am bought her an espresso machine. She only drinks tea. Plus, it was just too early in the morning for this. Well, high noon is too early in the morning. So, eight o’clock is the crack of down for me. The walls of her small kitchenette painted a cheery yellow seemed to stab my retinas. Definitely too early.

Shelise sighed. “I have a feeling something bad is about to happen. I need to read your tarot cards.”

Knowing she knew I was hearing everything she was saying, I made a slurping sound with my next intake of salvation i.e. caffeine.

“What you said is like saying ‘this day can’t get any worse’, or ‘I just got my boyfriends name tattooed on me.’ You’re testing the universe and fate.”

I sighed. It had to be the law of nature—someone always has to interrupt your coffee break. “Brace yourself, I’m about to sound intellectual. In the morning.”

I had to take another hit of espresso before starting. “The universe doesn’t push back. It’s made up of stars, planets, and black holes. It has no power to over-run your life just for the fun of it. I think it’s too busy creating other galaxies to concentrate on me. I don’t even know what fate consists of, but I do know you can’t piss it off.”

“I give you a four. You didn’t even mention Galileo this time.”

“Thanks.”

So, do you still not believe I’ve been stiffling my voice. Let me show you something else and maybe you’ll learn from me. Don’t stiffle your voice. If your voice consists of dark humor, or it’s just dark then let it loose. Don’t worry about it just let it happen.

Anyway, Here’s the end of the first chapter. The dull flat one I wrote:

“Hello,” the voice said.

I slapped the pause button trying to get my bearings. I knew that voice. It had soothed me when I cried over skinned knees, and it had encouraged me when I tried for the first time to ride my bike without training wheels. It also been filled with disappointment when I came home freshman year pregnant and no marriage in sight. I sat in my client’s chair. Six years had passed since I heard Samuel, my youngest brother’s voice.

I took a sip of coffee debating whether I should erase the message. Honestly, I could live my life guilt free without ever hearing the rest of it. I stared at the blinking light telling me that I had yet to hear what made my brother call me. I could listen, but that didn’t mean I had to call back. Curiosity would be the end of me.

I pushed play again bracing myself this time.

Now that wasn’t sooo bad(if you don’t count the infodump like writing), but let me show you the difference voice makes:

“Hello,” the voice said.

I pushed down the pause button trying to get my bearings. I knew that voice. Yes, all the man had said was hello, but I knew it just like I knew my eyes were brown without having to look in the mirror.

That voice had soothed me when I cried over skinned knees, and it had encouraged me when I tried for the first time to ride my bike without training wheels. It also been filled with disappointment when I came home freshman year pregnant and no marriage in sight. I plopped down into my client’s chair. My mind went back to Shelise’s words this morning, “something bad.”

Definition of something bad: After six years of being person non gratae your brother gives you a call.

I took a sip of coffee debating whether I should erase the message. Honestly, I could live my life guilt free without ever hearing the rest of it. I stared at the blinking light. I could listen, but that didn’t mean I had to call back. The light continued to blink. Well, now I needed to know what made him call. I wanted to know if it would be like the voice of God or something. Or more like Darth Vader, “Phoenix, I am your brother.”

Only three reasons came to mind why he would call:

1. He could have become a pastor of a church and wanted to know the last time I read my bible.

A good deed if you really think about it. Well, if you didn’t find that type of stuff annoying.

2. Or calling me to let me know they were giving away free exorcisms this week on Sunday, and I was high on the list of needing one.

Which still fell under a nice reason to call me. Wouldn’t you be scared if you started to vomit green stuff?

3. Or earlier this week they were going through the family bible. Would I mind if they whiteout my name?

Yes, my father named me while my mother was too doped up on an epidural, but Phoenix doesn’t exactly fall in with the same crowd as Mary or Sarah. Worse, it fell under Roman myth (or was it Greek?). Either way, people who praised Gods, not GOD. If I were uber religious like them I’d want my name taken off the record, too. You have to think about the book of lamb, recording all your misdeeds and all; naming your child after a Roman (Greek?) myth would fall under misdeeds.

I digress.

Curiosity is going to be the end of me.

I pushed play again, bracing myself this time.

Note it’s ten times longer the above passage, but I have to say I’m getting a better picture of how the character thinks. By reason two I want to know why the brother called. Third, you are getting all the same info. She hasn’t talked to her brother in years. This call is out of the blue. Curiousity will eventually kill the cat. And lastly I just think the Darth Vader line is funny.

So, tell me how do you know when you’ve un-stiffled your voice?

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Entry filed under: craft, utter crap, voice.

MOM-THEGREATEST MY WRITING BLOCK THANK YOU SPEECH

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cynthia  |  May 13, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    How do I know when I’m letting my voice come through? Good question and a very good time for this. Perhaps there’s something in the air?

    I know my voice, but getting it on the page is causing me more grey hairs and I honestly have more than enough thank you. I have a disconnect sometimes between my mind and my hand. When I’m just thinking story my voice is there but you put a pen in my hand, or set me infront of the computer and it gets stiff.

    I loved the re-written portions with YOUR voice. Of course you’ve also hooked me into the story and then left me hanging. Good writer, have a cookie. It’s a reward and the calories don’t count. Just like they don’t count on broken cookies, or food you eat in the dark.

  • 2. raine  |  May 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    So, tell me how do you know when you’ve un-stiffled your voice?

    When the passage is reading smoother, more naturally, and the flow is better.
    When it sounds like I’m not TRYING to write.

    Good examples, good post.

  • 3. Mel  |  May 13, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Lol. I’m from now on eating in the dark. Man, I should go to Spark People and log in my meals. Sigh.

    Anyway, I know what you mean. I have to force myself not to think and to just have fun for my voice to come out of hiding.

    Some days it’s the computer keys clicking away that gets me in the groove or a pen and paper. I don’t question it, I’m just glad it’s there.

  • 4. Mel  |  May 13, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    When it sounds like I’m not TRYING to write.

    Ooh, that’s a good one to learn. I’m definitely an over-writer.(Kind of like Mariah Carey is an over-singer) I’m not sure what the hell I’m thinking when I do it.

    Oh, I love that. Something to remind me when I’m doing it again. Trust me, I’m making notes. Thanks Raine.

  • 5. Pam  |  May 14, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I just cannot believe you could, much less would stifle your voice–just not possible! (And it’s obviously so much better. Sheesh!)

    As for myself, I know I’ve un-stifled when I stop deleting and the writing just flows.

  • 6. Mel  |  May 14, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Pam, in my “writing-writing” I stiffle the hell out my voice. On my blog, ha, I’m naive enough to think that no one reads it and who cares what I put on here.

    I know, I know.

    As for myself, I know I’ve un-stifled when I stop deleting and the writing just flows.

    Ooh, that’s a good one.

  • 7. Amie Stuart  |  May 19, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I dont think I really stifle my voice–I’m much too stubborn! But I do get lazy and/or sometimes the writing is hard, so edits do help in that regard as far as sprucing things up!

    So, why DID her brother call?

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