On Finding a Unique Voice

March 21, 2010 · 1 comment

You are the only one who sees the world the way you do… you know… properly.

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On the most intimate level, this can make for terrible “he said, she said” relationships. Even with people you’ve never met before, it can lead to ridiculous arguments over who had the right to a particular parking spot.

Just now out of curiosity, I googled the keywords “parking spot fight Walmart” and got back 249,000 entries. I rest my case.

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On the other hand, if you have the good fortune to have a best friend who gets that life is not a question of “who’s right,” but rather “who’s point of view will we talk about now,” you are truly blessed.

Take Rick, for instance. (Or rather, just borrow him for a minute. I want him back right away.)

One of the (MANY) great things about Rick is that before he jumps to a cranky place about how a conversation or interaction rolled out, he’ll consciously pause and ask, “How did you see that unfold?” He just takes it for granted that his perspective isn’t the only possible way a moment in the universe can have been interpreted or experienced.

As much as that makes him a gem of a husband, I think it’s what also makes him such a courageous, yet humble, creative being.

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I think he accepts and celebrates that he’s the only one who sees life from his unique perch. And I think all true artists–painters, song writers, poets, street mimes… okay, maybe not street mimes, but the rest, for sure– share this understanding in common. For many, it’s what drives the urge to create: to find and express your unique voice.

It’s not that easy to be tortured by artistic loneliness, either. At least, it’s not for me. Because as soon as I find another author I adore (Muriel Barbery, of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” is this month’s contender), I immediately struggle to write more like them. But I’m not them, and if I’m to be successful as a writer, I need to become more like me in my writing, not less.

Sometimes I feel like Phoebe on Friends when she declared, “I’d give anything not to be understood in my own time!”

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But I figure if I just keep my eyes on Rick, and my ears open for my muse, and my heart filled with the confidence that comes from being in a community of artistic courage, I may yet be misunderstood in my own time.

Are we confused yet?

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