Finding Your Voice

SingThe role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~ Anaïs Nin

I spent many, many years trying to understand how to become a better writer. One who sounded like all those other ‘published’ writers who always seemed to have something in their writing that mine could never seem to match. A lot of the writing books I bought and read would always refer to the same thing which was ‘finding your voice.’

Which, if you’re reading this sounds rather weird since if you can talk, don’t you already have a voice? Well not necessarily. A writer’s voice is different from the one you use in your daily life when relating to the world and the people around you. A writer’s voice bares your soul to the world and leaves nothing back. A writer’s voice cannot contain self-deceit of any kind related to where you are in your life right this moment and cannot pretend to love the life you have if you truly don’t.

When I first read this in numerous writing how-to books, I thought it nothing more than published author dribble. What the heck are they talking about when they say you have to find your voice? Sounds like a bunch of hogwash to me, and for a long time I ignored what these books were saying and kept writing the way I had always done. But something changed along the way. When I would go back to read what I had written some months after the fact, I could eventually see and acknowledge the missing element in my writing that these books were referring to. My early writing was well-structured and logical and interesting to read but was nowhere near the quality that came later. For some time I had difficulty defining what exactly was missing from my early written works until finally I had it figured out.

What was missing was truth. My truth. My inability to share who I really was with whomever might be reading it and feeling massive amounts of insecurity about laying myself out on the page. But that is the key to any great writer. A writer who pretends they love their life or keeps hidden from their readers and themselves their dissatisfaction with their life is a writer who won’t maintain their readers’ interest for long. A writer who is unable or unwilling to write from their authentic selves cannot connect to those who read their words because readers are a perceptive group who can intuit from the words they read whether or not the author is telling their truth.  A writer who writes from their truth using their own voice (one that isn’t borrowed or based on the style of another author), is one who will at some point in time get their words read. An honest, open writer is one who gets people interested in what they have to say since this kind of writer recognizes the value of their own voice. They value their own words and their own experience which in turn allows readers to also value the words they write. Honest writing using your own authentic voice allows readers to connect with an author as an individual who is having an experience they want to share.

What many readers everywhere value most is finding an author they can form a connection with, even if  just for the length of a blog, article or a single book. If that personal connection is missing then the reader will be unable to relate to whatever is the writer is talking about, and likely unable to finish reading whatever it is you’ve written. Connecting to readers on an emotional or personal level should be the primary goal of any writer because otherwise you’re just writing a journal. And there’s nothing wrong with writing a journal, but even journal writers at some level, even if not on a conscious level feel the pull to share their writing with others, which is typically where memoirs and autobiographies come from. Find your voice and in return you will find your authenticity and be rewarded with the knowledge that you have a strong sense of self that becomes more refined with every word you write. Not only that, but writing from your authentic self allows for soul expression and nothing gives more satisfaction than living a soulful life.

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Valentine’s Day: A Celebration of Love

Orange ball (1)All you need is love.” ~ John Lennon

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love dating back thousands of years and yet in recent years (or maybe it was always there and I just didn’t notice), there seem to be more and more people dissing Valentine’s Day as though it is in some bizarre way a personal affront to those who aren’t currently in a romantic relationship.

Honestly, I don’t understand these people. I mean really… no one ever said that Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a way to publicly insult single people all over the world or that someone is going to point fingers at single people on this day or that this holiday doesn’t represent something of value. Yes, I did just read this today on Facebook where someone posted as their status the following: “Happy UnValentine’s Day tomorrow, the day of nothing.” The reason given for such a strange post doesn’t make a lot of sense although it seems that this person is upset that this holiday celebrates a feeling and feels that we (as a society) shouldn’t because we don’t celebrate anger or sadness. Which in my opinion is a no-brainer since honestly who would really want a day set aside to celebrate or observe anger or sadness?

What is it exactly about this date that gets some people all bent out of shape over being single or needing reminders or whatever it is they feel they need to grip about? So what if many of our traditional western holidays have become commercialized? No one forces you to participate in any of them. No one expects you to go out and buy a bunch of stuff that shows you aren’t a Scrooge or are just unwilling to express yourself. There are no holiday police. No one is going to single you out or make you parade through the streets wearing a sign that says how much you suck for still being single or unwilling to participate in some holiday or other.

I saw another post on Facebook dissing the fact that there’s a date on the calendar dedicated to Love and griping about why we need a holiday to remind us to express our feelings to those we care deeply about. Um, what? Who says that is what February 14th is for? Who says we need reminding? Believing we need a holiday or a reminder speaks more about the person saying these things than it does about the rest of society. No one (at least none I’m aware of), has ever said that “we” as a society need to be told to express our love for others, no one has said that in order to feel fulfilled and appreciated I have to be part of a couple to enjoy it with, and no one has ever said to me that I have to observe a holiday I don’t believe in. Saying that Valentine’s Day or any other day is only there to remind us to show our feelings or observe a tradition implies that you do need a reminder, and that you do have a problem with expressing yourself. And saying that it’s just for couples is ridiculous. You can have a nice romantic dinner and bubble bath alone and eat all the chocolates by yourself without having to share. It’s still love and the best part is your soul will appreciate it.

As for Valentine’s Day being “commercialized”….so what? So is every other Western and non-western holiday and if the vast majority of those participating in these ‘commercial’ holidays believed as some do that it’s ‘too commercialized’ all the stores that promote that commercialism would no longer be participating in holiday traditions. Not only that, but if you dislike the commercialism of a particular holiday, you have the right and the freedom to choose to either not participate in it at all or start a new tradition that will make that holiday special for you.

As for St. Valentine’s Day itself, here is a bit of history: February is sacred to Juno Februata, the Roman Goddess of Purification, Fertility and Childbirth who was subsequently replaced in the 3rd Century by those wanting to ‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Juno Februata or Juno Februtis was the goddess who represented Lupercalia, which was a time of getting rid of the bad, stale or unclean, since in early Roman calendars, February was the last month of the Roman year. As for St. Valentine himself, there are no definitive answers to be found, since the Roman Catholic church recognizes three possible candidates who held the name Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were later martyred.

As for Valentine’s Days present-day connection to love, romance, lovers, roses and chocolate,  I could easily make an educated guess and say that many of these things are viewed as aphrodisiacs. And as many people are aware, there are a lot of people who employ aphrodisacs when trying to ‘get into the romantic mood,’ which can then easily be seen as also useful for any who are hoping it will also increase fertility which leads us full circle back to that ancient Roman Goddess Februata, who had no connection at all with commercialism or single people.

All I know for certain is that there is still a rather large percentage of the population that love Valentine’s Day and everything it stands for which of course is very fitting, since love is what it is all about.

Rebirth and Renewal

Sun HeartI thought I should make mention of the reasoning behind my blog site title. It took quite a while to arrive at it even though it seems so simple. My life has been made up of many life changing events, choices and decisions and after each one I was presented with the challenge of re-inventing myself and re-defining myself into someone I could recognize.

Many people are faced with change on a daily basis. Some make simple changes like working for a new employer in their chosen field, updating their wardrobe, changing their diet or simply getting a new haircut or style. I don’t believe that there are a large percentage of the population that experience numerous radical changes to their personal or professional life over a short period of time. Of course I could always be wrong on that count, but something tells me that the likelihood of that is quite slim.

My reasoning behind this conclusion goes back to the first time I ever considered getting life insurance and had a representative come to my home to discuss the various options regarding death, disposal and the types of service options available to me. While speaking with her about my options, she was struck by my answers and made the comment that she had never before  met with a client as young as myself who knew the difference between a memorial service vs. a funeral, as well as all the other considerations involved in planning for my own death. From her perspective, she explained that she had not yet met with a client my age who had even thought about making plans for after my demise.

I remember telling her about all the funerals I had already attended, who these deceased people were and at what age I was when I attended my first service. It was one of my aunts and I was 18,  although I did have an uncle that had passed away the year before whose service I was unable to attend. After that, it was as though they all wanted to go at the same time and there 3 more in the next year. After my grandma passed when I was just 20 I think I began to forget or take note of who, what and when. All I know for certain is that there are a lot of relatives I had when I was still 17, who 20 years later are now gone, including my dad in 2009 and his mom in 2011.

Aside from losing relatives to death, I’ve started and stopped numerous jobs, moved several times, attended 3 separate colleges, had a baby, got divorced, filed bankruptcy and been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue. How’s that for the first two decades of adult life? So in my opinion I feel that the story of the Phoenix who dies in a burst of flames, only to be reborn again from the ashes is the perfect name for a blog by me.

Writer as Artist

A writer is a rather strange form of artist. They have a unique way of talking themselves out of producing a “piece of art” when it comes to actually sitting down to put together an article, story or essay. I have heard them all, mostly because I’ve said them all as an endless inner self-litany of why I can’t or shouldn’t write…whatever it happens to be.

About a week ago another ‘writer’ reminded me of all the ways and all the words writers use when they attempt to explain why they don’t write or why they aren’t writing right now. The best one I’ve heard and said to myself over the years is the one that leads you, (and if you’re in a conversation), hopefully others, to believe that it’s a very valid reason for why you don’t write. It’s the one your ego loves to use, to make it seem as though you aren’t qualified enough or smart enough or talented enough to write anything. It goes something like this…. I don’t feel qualified enough to write, everything I want to write about has been said before and I’m not a ‘good enough’ writer to make what I have to say sound important or compelling enough, so that someone else would want to waste their time reading it.

I can honestly say that this excuse is a very strong and logical arguement that works for a very, very long time if you allow it to. However, I have some bad news about this whole lie that your ego tries to convince you is fact. The reason this excuse works so well is that it does hold an element of truth. Many things that you want to write about has been said before and most likely has been said many, many times before by many different authors. This is only a small pitfall though, since of all those authors who may or may not have said what you want to write about it did so from their personal perspective and their personal point of view. That being said, you must remember that only you have your perspective since you are the only one living from your point of view. No one else sees and experiences the world the same way you do. No one else has your particular interests or passions because all those things are what make you… YOU.

A prime example of a topic being overdone would be the ones written about the Law of Attraction or the Secret. They are all writing about the same topic, but they are also all being written by many different authors with very diverse perspectives. Their essential messages are all the same, yet they are being delivered by a different voice by someone sho has their own ideas on hhow to present the same issue. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, this is a very good thing because someone who reads The Secret will completely and entirely get what the author is trying to share with the reader and yet a second person will read the same book and wonder what the big deal is. Why? Because that author isn’t speaking a ‘language’ the second reader understands…it’s a completely different wavelength.

So the next time you want to share your reasons with yourself or others as to why you can’t write, remember this: That only you can tell a story from your personal perspective and if the message you’re sharing is important or relevant to someone, that message will be received by the audience that needs to hear it. But if you don’t write it down the only person you’re sharing it with is you and what fun is that?