Because sometimes one does things backward and higgledy piggledy, I wrote chapter one of my Master of Fine Arts writing project sixth in line. This made sense to me because I wasn’t sure how to launch this baby properly, and I may not have actually figured that out yet. But I did have a sense at times when I was writing it that I was in “the groove” and writing in the right direction. I’ve had this rare and beautiful feeling a few times in my writing life, and it is a welcome respite from agony.
I received the chapter back from my writing mentor, and in one little corner of it, at one passage in particular, he wrote: “I think this is a wonderful passage, you are in full voice here.” This gave me such joy. And at the risk of sounding not humble, I think he might have been right. I could see that the passage he was commenting on really did sound like me, and not like me pretending to be someone else. And that means knowing what I’m knowing, and being honest and saying what I think to be true in the way that I want to say it and that I think it needs to be said. It’s not yelling, but I guess full voice could be loud.
The next day, I sat around a dining room table in Toronto at a friend’s 60th birthday party. She is in full bloom (I think she is, but maybe not, maybe I don’t know what full bloom looks like. Maybe we just keep blooming and blooming). My friend is a priest and a professor, a writer and a mother and wife. She is fully engaged in her work. My dad has a funny little saying, about bosses or systems that were good to work in for him, he will say: “They used me well.” I think my friend is being used well right now, appreciated and maybe even applauded for all she has become.
I think she is in full voice. I shared with the table, that included her two daughters and ranged upward in age and stage from there, this idea of full voice. And of course because women don’t always speak in their full voice, (because they don’t want to be too loud, or hurt feelings, or be pushy, or they preface their fabulous idea with self-deprecation) they understood the concept immediately. We all agreed we know when we are not speaking in full voice.
So, I’m going to be thinking about this more these days. What is my full voice? And if I’m not using it, why not?