“I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.”
— Anne Lamott
Photograph by Ellen Blum Barish
Oh the power of a story told by the human voice.
I may be focused on words for the page, but for me there’s nothing quite as thrilling as hearing someone telling or reading a story.
Fond memories of bedtime stories (Goodnight, Moon and The Bundle Book come to mind) and hours listening to Burl Ives records may have something to do with it, but I think there’s more here. There’s something intimate about our voices. Something uniquely us.
And perhaps because I feel this way, I always encourage my writing students to read their work out loud. Even if there is no one in the room. Reading aloud gives the writer clues to her natural voice. The music of her voice. The rhythm. The pace. The intervals. The accents. The allegro and the non troppo.
When a writer trips over a sentence, this often means it’s one to revisit. Something about it isn’t working. On the other hand, when you are reading a passage and it just moves along gracefully, you just know how right it is.
The beauty of hearing your words is that you are listening to the sound of your soul. The words had to come out first onto the page, then into your ear. Which may sounds backward. But this is the artistry of writing. Making something out of nothing. The clay has to come first. Then we shape it.