About Me

Monday, February 21, 2011

Trusting Your Voice

When we find our voice and trust it, we have that special thing that both differentiates our work and makes it solid. It will be like no other; it will be honest, and it will be among the best. ~ Annie King


Terresa, at the Chocolate Chip Waffle, has a great discussion going on at her site about the benefits of hard work, and the need to not give up, when your creative efforts do not meet your expectations, in a post titled, I Wish Someone Told Me, based on this quote by Ira Glass:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."

-Ira Glass


As Terresa's posts always do, the quote got me thinking, and this is part of my response:

"Sometimes, just saying to ourselves, I am good enough, is what makes it happen. At some point, we need to judge our own work by no other standard but our own: Does this say what I want it to say, and is this the way I want to say it?

The best poems, performances, and works of art arrive from that confident place when we are in harmony with our own inner voice; they come from the heart, and not necessarily through any prompt or synthesis. So my best advice to anyone, along with learning your craft, is to learn to trust yourself, and your voice will be your own.

Ira Glass says, 'We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.' I think that special thing is the writer's or artist's own voice, and when we find our voice and trust it, we have that special thing that both differentiates our work and makes it solid. It will be like no other; it will be honest, and it will be among the best."

- Annie King

Another thing that I said in the comments is that I agree, the only way to get there is hard work. Those of us who are creative people have a certain mind set that makes us sensitive to the world and what it has to offer- the subtleties of color, shades of emotion, multiple points of view. Our sensitivities manifest themselves in works of art, expressed through everything from poetry to prose to paintings to songs to performances.

Are there times when you feel you are "in tune" with your inner self, and the resulting work, in that moment, is the best you can achieve, and you are satisfied? I have had such moments of satisfaction, where I have stopped saying, is it good enough, and I have said, it is good.

Is the entire body of my work good? No, but my novels are far from finished. I've written some successful poems and stories. Other poems and stories have their moments of success; it may only be a sentence, or a paragraph. I think if we can recognize those moments, we can keep on, and that all of our efforts are worth it.

Everyone here that I visit, I see that special authenticity in your writing, most of you consistently, and all of you much of the time. I'm trying something that Terresa often does with her posts. I am asking a question of the reader:

Do you find it to be true that there are times when your inner voice matches your achievement, and you are satisfied?

Do you find trusting your "own voice" gets you to that place where you want to be, with your work?

Do you have any advice for the rest of us, besides the hard work, of writing, writing, writing (or painting, or composing) - that gets you to that place where your "taste" matches your creation?

Feel free to respond to the quote, the questions, or the concepts in any way you choose. I have some great quotes from Carson McCullers about her creative process here, and repeated at Flowering Dream.