Friday, December 10, 2010

Write Like A Jellyfish

Today, one of my favorite on-line communities, The High Calling, features my flair for the day.  Enjoy the beginning of the post here, and please read more over at a great website that helps us deeply consider life, work, and faith. 

It's the last day of the semester.

I smooth out a new page, unzip my red pencil case, and attempt--along with these college students--the art of writing with flair.   The rain outside transforms to ice.  We hear its tiny fingers pelt the window begging for entrance into this warm space. 

With my own pencil poised, I ask the question again:  "How do we get our own voices--the authentic ones deep within our hearts shared by no other living soul--onto the page?"  Lately, I've made my writing lessons all about voice. Early in my writing teacher career, I learned that high school and college writing instruction attempts to remove voice from writing.  Make it academic.  Make it sophisticated.  My students always, always ask me (in a timid, near whisper) if it's OK for them to use the word, "I." 

It's like they're trespassing, violating some rule.  If they put the voice back into their writing, somebody will cross out the sentence and send them back to their desk to imitate some other scholar's prose.  The subtext: Don't sound like you.  Sound like us.

But there's something that only they can say, in only their way, in their own voice. 

What's a voice in writing?  How do I get to it?   Read on. . .

3 comments:

emily-lynne said...

Thanks for helping me swim.

Sam Van Eman said...

It's a great post, Heather. I'm glad you are serving in the classroom.

jenny_o said...

I agree, it is a great post and it made me think about my own voice, as that's the only one I can really know about. My voice, or style, was shaped by writing school papers - intro, points, conclusion. Mechanical and uninteresting. I am trying at quite a late stage in my life to develop my own voice but it's hard. Maybe that means I'm not naturally inclined. Or maybe it's like many writers have said, when asked what their secret to good writing is: write, write, and write some more!

I do love your "voice", Heather. And I love that I learn about writing from your posts. And on top of that, I love that I learn about finding the nugget of beauty in life at the same time. Please keep it up!