Writer's Voice: Five Places to Find Meaning
Have you seen my voice?
Odd question, I know. Voice is associated with sound not sight. Still, I’ve been looking for it everywhere: writer’s retreats, a bedroom converted into a chic writing studio, the refrigerator, which is filled with brainpower snacks, specifically chocolate-mocha Haagen-Dazs (They say it cures writer’s block. I’ve dedicated years to working out the correct dosage). Yet while my words arranged on paper proved that I can hold my own with a comma and I’m no slouch when wielding a semicolon, the words themselves felt to me like hollow echo chambers; they ran in place bouncing off the keyboard onto the page but went nowhere.
Then one day last autumn, I was strolling through a street fair. I noticed two women standing behind a table display of seed packets wrapped attractively as gifts. Muse impulse or poor shopping-impulse control, it no longer matters which, prompted me to buy five of them.
So as not to feel guilty for spending $10. on seed packets that probably had a unit cost of eighty cents each, I went home and found the addresses of five people I’d fallen out of touch with for several years. For each note card, I thought that I’d be clever and enclose an inquiry: “Where will love blossom next in your life?”
Several weeks passed with no acknowledgement.
Naturally, I pulled out my journal to bask in rejection. I’d show them. I’d answer this query myself and rejoice in my own smug self-satisfaction that I was a lone word warrior.
Where will love blossom next in my life? Hmm. That was a puzzler. I couldn’t work out the problem-solving angle or think my way around it. The emptiness of the blank page mirrored the emptiness within me. It was uncomfortable like scratchy underwear. I couldn’t turn back though. I put that query out there and if I ignored it myself I couldn’t justify my ego bruise.
‘Where’ meant going not to a retreat, my studio or the refrigerator, but to a place of vulnerability. Where did I feel that emptiness in my body? The question triggered my heart to race so fast it felt like a ping-pong ball trapped in my chest. I took several deep breaths and allowed it to lead the way.
I share with you five places to explore for meaning in your writing practice.
1. Make a list of five people whom you miss having in your life.
Pick up the phone and call each one. Start the conversation anew. Don’t allow anxiety about what to say stop you. Trust that the words will come.
2. Brainstorm 100 words about a person whom you love. Next, imagine that you’re creating a painter’s palette by group similar words together like hues of color. Then, with your pen as the brush and the paper as your canvas, create a message that speaks to who this person is in your life. Send this note.
3. Celebrate laughter. When people laugh in conversation with you, ask why what you said was humorous. Celebrate who you’re both being in that moment.
4. Listen with unconditional love. Where do you see pain among your family members or friends? Ask what is hard for them to be with. Listen without judgment, a proposed solution or comment. Simply be there and share the space.
5. Practice voice play. For one week, note all the different voices that surround you: birds, the wind, children, people and animals. What are they saying? What’s your heart saying back?
Without realizing it, my inquiry planted a self-discovery bulb last fall. Through the cold winter months, I felt the ‘wheres’ unfold gradually and I found that my voice within my heart. Now with the spring buds, I am grateful for the journey and I trust my heart along this continuous path.
I hope one or more of the above bring you to a new place in your writing practice—the place where your voice lives. Where love will blossom next in your life?
© 2005 Melissa A. Rosati. All rights reserved.
This article was posted on March 27, 2005