Finding Voice Underneath the Weight of Your Story
I cannot remember the exact day I became a writer, but I do remember the years of not calling myself a writer, the years of feeling like it was an impossible feat, the years of fear and self-judgment every time I put pen to paper. A voice inside of my head said, “Are you sure you’re a writer? Is that really what you want to say?” It took finding my true writer’s voice to quiet all that noise and put pen to paper with a feeling of “I’ve got this!”
It was a journey of a thousand years and a thousand days rolled into what looked like my life. A young woman dreaming of telling her story, a young woman writing poems about a broken heart, because broken hearts were all there was from twenty to thirty. The search for love continued to evolve and becoming a writer was one thing that helped me to stop looking outward and start feeling inward.
I was to love myself.
This I figured out when I finally found my voice. “Just love yourself,” a voice started to imprint in my head. What I didn’t realize in those early years of self-expression was that I was a writer in the making. I had to keep plucking the feathers of fear from the goose that was chasing after me and let that mean goose know that my voice was here to stay! It took practice and coming back to the table, to the woods, to the heart, to the paper.
Was it as easy journey? You know the answer to that, you have likely traveled these woods yourself searching to find your voice.
How does one find their voice?
In the Fall of 1998, I signed up for creative writing with Daniel Muller, a professor at the University of New Mexico. Mr. Muller was a published author! This was it, anyone who was published was the be-all of writing and would get me to where I needed to go.
I sat in class that first day watching the afternoon light steam across the tables and chairs in the room. Mr. Muller was tall and husky looking with a five o’ clock shadow of a beard growing, wearing jeans and a baseball cap with the front tilted upward. This guy was a rebel, no suit and tie kinda fella. I liked him right away.
The semester flew by like a bird overhead—in one big swoop I had learned about the beginning, middle, and end of storytelling. I had learned about using metaphor and narrative to write a story. I remember writing a memoir piece about falling off a cliff and breaking my leg when I was ten years old. The heaviness of my story and wanting to tell it had been pressing down on my shoulders for ten years. I had just turned twenty-two.
I felt nervous and elated turning that paper in and not so elated when it came back to me. I first saw the red marks all over the page, most of them for grammar corrections and some for spelling. I missed the remarks at the end that said, “What a captivating story, completely drew me in.” My mind rushed to the surface of the red marks. Grammar… it will be the death of me.
The rest of my story started to flood my mind. This is what happens to us writers, old narratives about who we are start to take over, creating a heavy resistance to our writing and finding our voice.
Who was I? A young woman who didn’t know how to love herself, a girl that had experienced a lot of trauma through her formative years, there was so much more than the broken leg piece. My story came tumbling down on top of me along with all the red marks. I was a red-marked child, a red-marked woman. How would I ever find my voice and tell my story? My dream was almost crushed beneath the weight of my own beliefs about my story.
But there was hope—that light peeking through the clouds, a deep whisper from beneath the belly’s core. One day I would crawl out from under the heaviness of my own story and find my voice. I had enough courage to tell bits and pieces of my story to people who asked and the response was always, “That’s incredible! You should write a book.”
There it was, you should write a book! And then the thoughts came rushing, I’m not a writer. I wanted to shout back at the resistance to scream it into non-existence, but this becoming a writer was a quiet steady revolt against the non-believer that lived inside.
To be continued
Next Blog piece, The Quiet Revolt against the non-believer that lived inside.