We are sometimes pressured to be homogeneous, to be all one mode: all nice, or all pro or con an issue, clear and uncomplex. Yet when I find a personal truth, very often it is a paradox, combining both polarities. Truth inside out. We can love fiercely, and disagree vehemently. So we can write clearly and ambivalently, in focus and confusion, clearly committed and questioning. We can choose to be broad, with texture and dimensions, messy and stainless-steel polished.
Speaking and writing with your own voice does not mean silencing parts, but integrating them. Like the Tibetan monks, who chant with two tones, we do not have to speak in just one voice. Here’s Carolivia Herron:
Carolivia: It is possible not to lose artistic value even when you have many voices.
It is helpful to have an accurate inventory of our talents and skills for communicating. Regina Barreca and Yoko Kawashima Watkins bring a richness of material from their inherited voice, merging that inheritance and their own developed talent. We each have our bril- liance, where we shine, and our tarnish, those places to polish.
Everybody gets something really perfect, I think. I like people- watching in public places, looking at passersby to see what is their excellence: one who holds a child so tenderly, another who strides with intention and confidence.
Looking at our own writing, it’s useful to think about what comes easily and what doesn’t work at all, and what can be worked at and improved. Carolivia Herron comments on this.
Carolivia: It is a concept that Yeats had, and he probably had it from somebody else, but his concept was that every writer has what he calls an automatism, something you do so well that you’ll not even think about it. It just flows out of you, and maybe it is characterization, maybe it is conversation. Maybe it is description.
Mine, if I may say so, is description. Give me something as dull as a black pen on a brown table, and I could write three hundred pages.