Are You Looking for Your Voice in All The Wrong Places?

By Terry Gassett

05/04/2018

I have always been fascinated with everything about writing: the creative process, the mystery of words, the etiology of words.

Words open up our world, infuse new ideas into stale thinking, introduce us to people we didn’t know existed, and transport us to places we might otherwise never get a chance to visit.

But behind each word is a writer’s voice, perhaps the deepest mystery of all.

A writer’s voice is the distinct way that a writer expresses himself through his writing, much like each of us uniquely express ourselves vocally.

As a reader, you probably aren’t conscious of the writer’s voice as you read. Hopefully, you are being so gently swept along by the writer’s words, that the voice behind the words is not at the forefront of your attention.

As writers, we are often all too aware of our voice, or our perceived lack thereof. We wonder what it sounds like and where to find it. We read about ways to find it. We try different ones on for size. We look for it in others’ writings. We become obsessed with finding this all too elusive voice.

There are many good articles, blog posts, and books on how and where to find your voice, written by writers with far more knowledge and experience than I have. Talking to an experienced editor or professional writer can yield some wonderful insights. By all means, seek them out. Those that are practiced and skilled in the art of writing can offer you numerous suggestions, or perhaps even a step by step process for finding your voice.

I can’t. But I would like to share with you a story about how I found mine.

What’s Barking Got to Do With It?

When our oldest son was on summer break between college semesters, he brought home a “full-blooded chihuahua” puppy which he had purchased from its’ owner for the bargain price of only $100! We soon discovered that this puppy was not a “full-blooded” anything. He was more likely a mixture of a little bit of a lot of different breeds.

Nevertheless, he quickly wormed himself into our lives and our hearts. We named our little “chihuahua,” “Pork Chop,” or “Porky” for short.

Pork Chop was our first little dog. We had always had larger breeds before. He seemed like more of a “baby”. He whined and cried when he wanted something. He liked to be held. He wanted to stay close to us, sit in our laps, sleep in our beds. He liked our attention, and we were happy to give it to him. In fact, he kept us so occupied that we failed to notice there was something a little different about Pork Chop. He was almost six weeks old and he had never barked. Not even once!

One day our neighbors brought home a small puppy. This puppy would sit outside in their front yard, looking over at Pork Chop, scratching and wagging his tail. Porky so wanted to get out of his own fence and go welcome one of his kind into the neighborhood. But try as he might, he couldn’t escape the confines of his yard to do that!

So, he sat right behind the front gate and whined at the little puppy. He whined and he whined, but the little puppy just continued to just sit and scratch and wag his tail.

Porky’s whining grew louder and more insistent, then morphed into a bit of a howl followed by a whine. He continued exploring new sounds hoping to gain the puppy’s attention. “Ah..rrrh, ah..rrrh, rrrrh, rrrrh, rrrh. Owwww…owwww…rrrrh…rrrh, rrrrh..ruuu..ruuu,” finally followed by  one big “Ruff!”

Porky stopped dead in his tracks. He looked back at us, he looked over at the little puppy.  He let out another “Ruff”, then another, then another.  The little puppy stopped scratching and wagging his tail and sat up straight with his eyes fixed on Porky. Porky had commanded his full attention now. He had our full attention now. Pork Chop had found his bark!

It was an exciting day, that day that Pork Chop found his bark. And I learned some unforgettable lessons that day about finding my own.

We All Have A Voice. We All Have Something of Value to Say.

I believe as writers we find our voices in much the same way as Porky found his bark. They are not found outside ourselves but within ourselves. They are unique to us, but often, like Porky, we may not use our voices until we find a compelling reason to do so.

We all have a voice, we all have something of value to say. Once we realize that and begin to really believe it, we start to find our voice.

Finding our voice is a gradual process, one that comes not by searching for it, but by using it, which means we actually have to put those words in our heads down on paper. The more we actually write, the more we relax into our own voice, and the more we relax, the more our readers will start to connect with it.

We all have a voice, we all have something of value to say. Once we realize that and begin to really believe it, we start to find our voice. Click To Tweet

Just Bark…

So, now after the lessons learned that memorable day, the mystery of finding ones’ voice is not as mysterious as I once thought. For me, it’s pretty simple now. I just remember to “bark” when I have something to say.


Terry Gassett

terry1

Hi, I’m Terry Gassett, Jesus Follower, Wife, Mother, Nina, Life Coach, and Writer. I was born and raised in the “Deep South” and I still live and work there. I have been married to my heartthrob for over 30 years, and we have three grown children, three granddaughters (two who are twins!) and a Chi Chi/Jack Russell perpetual pup.

I am a Life Design Coach and I work with Creative Christian Women to design lives of purpose, passion, and joy!

When not listening to women’s hearts through the coaching process, I am expressing my own through writing.  Currently, I’m writing my first book – “Breathe, Just, Breathe: Breathing in the Extraordinary Gifts of God on Ordinary Days.”

     Two Drops of Ink/A Literary Blog:  http://www.heretotherelifecoaching.com

Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:

1) An Instrument of Beauty

2) Journey to Joyful Living

3) Hump Day Humor: ‘The House on Lesseps Street’

4) Fridays with MaMa’

5) Memoir: Leaving a Legacy of Love

6) Finding Inspiration

7) The Fiction Challenge: ‘Billie Jo’ by Terry Gassett

8) Memoir: Remembering Virginia

9) Creative Non-Fiction: Going Home


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13 comments

  1. Terry, What a great illustration of finding your voice! I love the dog story. And I love this “Finding our voice is a gradual process, one that comes not by searching for it, but by using it, which means we actually have to put those words in our heads down on paper.” That says it all. Use your voice. 🙂

  2. […] https://twodropsofink.com/2018/05/04/are-you-looking-for-your-voice-in-all-the-wrong-places/ “As writers, we are often all too aware of our voice, or our perceived lack thereof. We wonder what it sounds like and where to find it. We read about ways to find it. We try different ones on for size. We look for it in others’ writings. We become obsessed with finding this all too elusive voice.” I think it develops over time. It just happens. It’s the combination of everything a writer is. […]

  3. Hi, Terry! That dog was mostly Weimaraner. He was beautiful. He found our son while he (our son) was fishing along a canal near Beaumont TX. Max, as he came to be known, was eating his catfish bait. He had buckshot in him and snake bites. Once we got him, we discovered he also had heart worms. Not surprising. We fed that dog baby food by hand, but got him through it. He was also an escape artist, but that’s a story for another time….

    • Hi Maryjo,
      Bless you all for caring for Max! Good outcomes for the “Max’s” of the world warm my heart! Seems like Max knew which family to choose!
      We had another doggie that was also an escape artist – and that too is a story for another day! Lol!

  4. Terry,

    Finding your voice is a strange process sometimes. When I finally “found” mine, I realized it had been there all along–it felt natural. Before that, I had been trying to force it, which you should probably never do. Great post!

    • Hi John, Good to see you here, friend! Thanks so much for reading and your insightful comment on noticing patterns in one’s writing. So true!
      Here’s to the journey!

  5. Great story, Terry! It reminds me of a stray our college-aged son wanted to drag home many years ago.

    Before we met this dog, our boy told us, “This dog is so nice. He’s so well behaved. In fact, this dog doesn’t bark!”

    That night, we found out that indeed, he did not bark. He howled.

    But back to writing. The one thing we writers need to be careful of is letting others who critique our work try to change our voice. It’s a very fine line.

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