When I was in elementary school, I was placed towards the back of the girls’ alto section when we had chorus or practice for school performances. At that stage in my singing life, height was the determining factor in where you were placed. Progressing through junior high and high school, my height stayed pretty much average, but I found myself standing in the no-man’s land of vocal outcasts, a mix of lip-synchers and earnest-but-tone-deaf crooners. (People in this music-loving group grow up to be the people who belt out hymns in church, testing the charitable spirits of people in adjacent pews.) When public singing is called for, I’m an enthusiastic lip-syncher, mouthing the words to nearly every song I love.
Maybe that’s why the topic of “voice” fills me with a hobbling mix of insecurity and longing. I long to be a freely expressive singer, but I self-limit to solo car travel, road bike rides on windy days and shower-time. Now, I’m faced with finding my “voice” in writing. For me, the idea of voice, sung or written, is fraught with anxiety.
I recently started writing posts for this blog. An optimistic novice, I thought I could simply transfer my email style to the blog. It hasn’t worked that way. I know that emails are neither secure nor private, but I routinely throw civility and caution under the bus and run loose at the keyboard. It’s probably why I’ve built up a small but devoted fan club who clamor for (and actually share) some of the stuff I’ve written. I know that emails have a long half-life. Then the blog came along, and I’ve clammed up. A tiny censor has moved into my brain. It’s small but powerful and shows up on the path from my mind to my fingers. The Tiny Monster throws out the roadblock, puffs itself up and taunts me, “Do you really want THIS to live forever in the infinity of the Web?” Whatever voice I was using starts to falter.
The bright, energetic professor who taught the first “Writing for the Web” course that I took is a kind-hearted, encouraging person, finding the worthy bits in every student’s efforts. She could see paths for growth and and refinement and wide readership and eventual glory for each of us. It became clear to me, however, that I had to find my “voice” in order to mature into a respectable blogger. This voice-finding is a not simple task, like finally discovering where you left your car keys.
And so, I press on, still looking for my voice. I am sure I lost it this past August, and became so inhibited that I couldn’t write at all. I’m now thinking that the Tiny Monster has my voice in its pocket. I need to catch the little bugger and put him out of his misery.