Writing Voice

Last week I did a speech at Toastmasters. It was my second speech. The goal of the speech was to have what you wanted to say organized. Get it to flow.

Nervousness consumed me. Not like before when I was working and had to public speak. This time it was different. I held the fear of putting myself  out there under a layer of something.  The fear felt muffled.  As I practiced my speech and reread it I felt I was never going to remember any of it. The fear of reading the speech and never making eye contact with the crowd filled me.

My first speech went much smoother. I wrote it the morning before I had to present it and it was about me. It was part of me. It didn’t take much to write it or feel comfortable with it although I was still nervous.  It was under the required time amount but when I got up to the podium I manage to be natural and add more content.  I enjoyed it very much and thought this second speech should go as smoothly.  It stemmed from my passion for memoir writing.  It was about the importance of a memoir, or reflecting on one’s life.

So what was different about the two speeches? One was from me about me. The other one was about my passion but I did use a lot of books to back up what I said versus the speech on me I didn’t need anything to back up my knowledge on the subject matter.  Since the words were not all my own it was difficult for me to feel comfortable with it.

This feeling is familiar to me.  I feel it often when I blog or when I feel the need to prove something to someone.  I am unable to find my own words so I turn to others who have said it for me.  I do this often, as does my husband, when we want to prove something to one another.

One of the kind criticisms I received at the end of my speech was that it sounded like I was writing to a publisher. The gentleman also commented that there was a lot of content in my speech and he felt that he would need to hear it more than once, several times, to hear everything I said.  He thought it was great but it was too full and it felt off.  (Those are my words not his.)

Compliments of Sunstone Creations

He suggested that writing for a speech may be different from writing for publisher as he put it. It needs to be more fun, natural, I need to feel comfortable up there at the podium.I pondered his suggestions for the next hour on my way home. My instinct is saying they should be the same.

I went to bed that night feeling as though the problem was in my writing voice. Perhaps it wasn’t very authentic in this second speech. Then curiosity bounced in joyfully.  I wondered about whether or not I was writing the right things on my blog. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing about how to write your memoir.  Perhaps I am a bit off my mark. If I am putting in too much effort on what I write then it isn’t flowing for me and then maybe it isn’t organic enough for me?  I wonder … or maybe I am doubting myself and I’m not saying it the way I want to say it?

I let the idea go and went on with my day but the idea of my authentic voice floated around and around in my mind. When I think back now I can recall being aware that my brain was churning it over.

Then the next morning, or maybe it was two days after, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning. Wide awake. I had a desire to start writing my childhood memoir. Now certainly the chill outside of my duvet kept me tucked within but there was an element of me just being lazy and not wanting to get up and sit down and write.

So I asked myself, why don’t I want to do the work?  The first two thoughts that followed were:

  1. Because it is going to be so much work not to mention the commitment to stay at it and the effort to  remember.  Drudging up memories can be good but also hard.
  2. I could approach my memoir-writing-how-to section on my blog by actually working on a memoir and writing about the process rather than referring backwards to the process I went through with Sunlight. Maybe this is a better technique to get to my authentic voice and say what I want to say while getting a another book written that has been on my mind.

Compliments of Sunstone Creations

So this is the beginning of a new technique.  I am going alter the posts “Memoir Writing:  Discover Your Life” posts by writing about my experience going through a current memoir writing process.  Trying and experimenting on finding my authentic voice in the written word.

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Memoir Writing For Life Purpose #1.a

Well I spent the long weekend thinking about it and I can not leave the importance of my first post on memoir writing as it is.  It is too important.  It was in regards to paying attention to your breath, thoughts and feelings as you move throughout the day.  There are messages and codes in these thoughts.  They are like little birds carrying keys to unlock your past.  Don’t let them fly away.

In this technique I do believe you can find everything you are looking for in discovering yourself on your journey back to the beginning.  The beginning when you were pure of societal’s pressures and you picked your nose anyway.  Or perhaps you ran around naked before someone told you that we must where cloths around people.  Then there are those damn things called manners.  Those manners can really get in the way and teach us things about  who we are suppose to be.  One example is how they educate us on our gender.  As a girl it was really important for me to be self sacrificing.  Even more so, it was important for me to be self-sacrificing as a Luneng.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

I wanted to emphasize one last time ( it won’t be the last time) about being aware of what you are thinking and feeling.  Even now as I sit on this couch I feel I may be a bit saucy in this post because I am trying to manage back pain and lets face it, my pain has to go somewhere.

Please, if you notice your breathing change from a calm, relaxed, steady rhythm, ask yourself what is going on.  It may not be always obvious but keep digging.  Keep asking.  You will get a gift of awareness once in a while and then more often than not.   Secrets to your past lay in these moments.  Don’t let them disappear.  You never know when you will get a memory back.

Take a peek. Look outside of your daily life to see something new and grand.
This picture was taken at my daughters school. Outside of the tunnel she is in lays a playground waiting to be discovered. Just like our memories. Are you ready to play or are you asking yourself “Why would I want to dig up all that stuff from the past?”

As we embark on this journey lets remember to be aware of what is going on within us.  Lets be kind to ourselves because some memories will not be welcomed.  Now, we need to answer the question of why we would even go through all of this and then we will get to the bit on ‘how to remember and what to do with those memories’.

See you next week Monday!

A Bit of Sunlight

“At home I felt like a used cat toy that was ripped apart but expected to keep giving. I was not valued. I was not consulted on many decisions. I couldn’t even boil water at the right temperature without being told I was doing it wrong. I doubted many of my decision that I did make. I had to ask for validation for many things, “Could I go to the bathroom now or would it be better to wait until Teela was distracted?”

My home life was the complete opposite of my work life. There was no team work, no support, no appreciation. I had to do everything while all of them got to sit at the computer and/or watch TV. Did no one even notice I was evaporating?

Despite being respected at work and feeling ripped apart and broken at home I knew the answers for my anxiousness and disrupted self were at home. I wanted to take the time to make sense of my home life and find a balance. I would never find the answers to my problems in a place that wasn’t right for me. Home was where I wanted to be despite it sucking the life out of me.”

The “place that wasn’t right for me” was my job as an academic coordinator.  I loved my job but I felt like a fraud.  I was always pretending to be something that I wasn’t.  While I held this position, and the positions that led to this position, I felt I was watching me wobble around in high heal shoes.  Finally I fell from those heals.  What a relief my disguise is over.

Have any of you ever felt as though you were in a job or place that wasn’t quite right for you?

The Disappointing Manila Envelope

The Manila EnvelopeMy husband hands me a large manila envelope. I look at the return address to see who would send me such a letter. It was my friend Dawn. She has been reading over my book Sunlight, being the first line of defense on the project. At first I feel excitement. I think that I’m ecstatic on finally having the whole book read and suggestions on cleaning it up. Only it feels rather light. Not 140 pages that is for sure.  Not even 70 pages if she printed it double-sided. Disappointment gently lays a blanket over me gentle like so as not to bring me back to reality.

I open the envelope and see my manuscript with a note on top. She wants me to rework the entire document based on her suggestions in the first 52 pages. Argh.  A brick of despair hits my chest and sticks there causing my shoulders to sulk forward.

I flip through the work she has returned and her pen has bled all over the pages. Changes are needed everywhere. I’m absolutely baffled. I’ve made changes to the first 65 pages 3 times. Each time I had it read over by a different person, a friend acting as editor. The last time was by someone with surmountable experience, the writer in residence at my library. As I went through each editor less and less changes needed to be made. Now it is returned to me with changes needed everywhere again. Defeat.

On top of this I had shown the ending of the book to a writing teacher of a class I’m taking and he says it is incomplete. It is a living memoir so perhaps I haven’t even lived the ending yet. What a daunting feeling to think that this book may not be published for sometime if I still have to live out my ending. I thought what I have gone through so far would part one. Perhaps I would write a sequel later.

I now wonder if this book will be published this summer. I need to work up the courage and energy to clean up the story. It is so hard to relive what has happened in the not-too-distant past by reading the story over and over.

Yet, if I leave it this sense of despair, an aching heaviness on my chest, will tug at me and weigh me down until it is done.  I must complete this project.  Work on improving the ending and make the changes my friend suggests.  I must complete it this summer. One step at a time.  One page at a time.  It will be complete.  I can do this.  The brick falls from my chest as a new, stronger power takes hold of me.  I shake myself back to reality, to the present moment, and throw the blanket off of me.  I can do this.  No problem.

The Beginning of The End

The Last Anniversary

The last family photo with my parents.

I can remember the day that I new my parents marriage was over. They had been fighting since I was in Grade Two for sure. That was the year that my mom came and started sleeping with my younger sister Melinda and I in the big bed in the bedroom. The big day that marked the definite beginning of the end was their 16th wedding anniversary.

My Aunty Hulda and Uncle Fred came out to visit us with a cake as they always did.  We made burgers and had some lunch. Making sure we had our best picnic dishes out which wasn’t saying much for a family that lived out of an old grain bin. Aunty wanted our picnic table in the front yard for some reason. I felt we were exposed but they were our guests so we obliged.

After our lunch we took pictures. Mom and dad were photographed with the cake first.  Then a family photo.  Then Aunty Hulda slips in beside her brother and has a photo taken with the three of them. Dad placing his arm around Aunty. I noticed my mom’s face change during this picture. She became unhappy. Complete sadness came over her. She could hardly conceal it for the photo.

The atmosphere changed after that. Mom’s energy wrapped around all of us. The tone of conversation changed with mom falling more silent where just before we were laughing and my sisters and I were running around the yard. Us kids watched as all the adults ignored it, pretending that everything was fine, not wanting to wreck a perfectly good day.  Where they unaware they day had just fallen apart in a single moment?

It seemed strange to me that no one asked my mother what was wrong. As kids we did that all the time with each other.  But these were adult things so I watched the adults lead the way. I guess ignoring things was what one did when they grew up.

Later, years after their divorce, I asked my mom what happened that day. She said that she felt so unloved by my dad. He put his arm around his sister who drives him crazy but not his wife on their wedding anniversary. She felt like she wasn’t good enough. How ironic that my dad mourns the loss of their marriage to this day. He only ever loved my mom. He sits in a nursing home, 88 years old now, and still gets romantic thoughts about my mom. My mom still searches for love.

PS:  Strangely, searching for the pictures taken this day to use for this blog post I could only find this one.  Even more strange is that I see my dad’s arm is around my mom.  Very baffling.  Did my mom not know that his arm was indeed around her?  I am so many more questions now.