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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Sound of Voice

photo courtesy of amenic 181/ freedigitalphotos.net

Someone asked me an interesting question the other day. They asked, "What does my voice sound like to you?"

Being the clever person that I am I answered, "It sounds like you."

The person asking rolled their eyes at me and asked again, "What does it sound like? Does it sound like a stream or a waterfall?"

I sighed. It was late in the evening. Why were they asking me hard questions like this now? As the silence lengthened I knew they would just wait me out if I didn't answer. I thought about the question. What did this person's voice sound like to me? What did it remind me of? I smiled. "Maple syrup," I said. "Rich, sweet, maple syrup, the pure kind, and pancakes."

"Is my voice cloying or sticky?" they asked me.

"No," I said. "It is sweet and rich like a really well made syrup. But not cloying or sticky. Pure maple syrup isn't as sweet as the store bought corn syrup stuff with food dye in it. And pancakes are happy. They smell and taste good and they make the maple syrup taste even better."

Not only does this person remind me of maple syrup and pancakes. Sometimes they smell like them too. We don't know why that is, but they do.

The question was a fascinating one. At least, it was once I took the time to really think about it. We all get very focused on what we see. Even our sense of smell tends to be stronger and evoke more emotion from us that our hearing or sense of touch. Maybe the reason for this is the constant noise that surrounds us. We learn to tune it out. We also tend to get caught up in our routines and nowadays rather than living in a community we live in a world of strangers, somewhat isolated. Our sense of touch has become under utilized. Even though we may do things with our hands everyday we don't focus on the sensation of touch.

But what would we do if we couldn't see? How would we figure out things then?

photo courtesy of J. Fry/ freedigitalphotos.net

People who can't see are still able to live quite well. They listen, and smell, and touch to figure things out. When they listen to or read a book they do it with their ears or their fingers. Some of my favorite books have been heard instead of read. I've listened to them as I did housework or traveled in my car. The characters are still visualized in my mind, but they have a voice too. Whether you read or write a story you hear the character's voice before you see them in your mind. I do anyway. It is a persistent sound. One that is my constant companion until I get it written out on paper. Then comes the revision and tweaking. And the voice is more coherent and even more demanding, wanting me to get the facts of their existence just right.

So, this week before you delve into your normal routine take a moment to consider the people you love most. What do they sound like to you? Do their voices sound like the feeling of a gentle breeze against your cheek? Do they announce their presence with fanfare like a trumpet? If you like to read think about what your favorite character's voice sounds like in your mind as you think about their story. What is it about that voice that draws you into the story and makes it real in your mind? It is a hard question to answer. Voice is so much more than what we see and hear. But I think it is a good question to think about and ponder. If for no other reason it forces us to pause and be still. To focus on who we are and who or what makes our heart want to continue beating...

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