Our Universal Tongue

images 2There’s no denying that as a writer, I’m all about words. But when words are put to music and made into a song, a universal language is created that can move a mass of people all at the same time. Often it does the job better than mere words can.

I’m just back from my first trip to Nashville and the button of my music-loving soul has most definitely been turned on.  I road tripped down there with my husband and two dear, longtime friends for the annual Americana Music Association’s Festival and Conference http://americanamusic.org/who-we-are. Americana music is folk, country, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, often called roots music. All four of us love the many flavors of Americana music and the mess it makes with our emotions so we went down there to marinate in it.

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The Sound of Your Voice

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.