I used to write with a friend who had the most sarcastic voice I’d ever heard. Instead of finding this distasteful, I loved how irreverent her characters were and admired the conflict she developed in her short stories. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I felt bad about myself when we wrote together, since I realized from listening to her character’s taunts, that I was holding back.
Growing up, I was encouraged to be a good girl, to not do or say anything that would reflect badly on my family. At the same time, inside my head, I had great comebacks that I didn’t let fly. I contained my wicked sarcasm in order to preserve my place in the family.
By being herself, my friend helped free a part of myself. What a relief it was to embrace my sarcasm. As I practiced saying whatever came to mind, astoundingly, humor developed in my writing. Be it dark humor…yet humor.
I guess it’s like any gift we possess, if we don’t try, we’ll never know the fullness of our ability. In Wild Mind Writing, I encourage writers to say whatever they want to say on the page. This means, anything that you wouldn’t want your mother or grandmother to hear you say, you can write in your journal…and read aloud. Once you free every part of yourself (whether you share this writing with the public or not) your writing voice will develop a richer texture.
I’ll leave you with these questions: Where in your life do you hold back? How do you judge others, because you’ll judge yourself in the same way? Are you willing to embrace that part of yourself in order to develop your writer’s voice?
Nancy Canyon, MFA
New Class: Wild Mind Writing (based on Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones) begins this Thursday 10/11, 6:30-8:30 at Whatcom Community College. To sign up, call 383-3200. www.whatcomcommunityed.com