Voice: “Someone Whispering in our Ear”

By Isabel Sawyer | Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Ashley,

Last week was a hard, hard, hard week for me-my baby was sick and because it was her week with her dad and she wasn’t with me, I couldn’t see her or be with her or hold her. She hasn’t had a lot of sick moments when she wasn’t with me (for some reason) and I worried about her waking up in the middle of the night and having one of her awful coughing/asthma attacks and me not being there-she gets so scared. I hate the thought of her being scared without me! And, it was so frustrating not to be able to try to make things better for her (not that I necessarily could have). Ugh. I am glad she is back with me this week-although, she is certainly feeling fine now! Back to her old argumentative little self!

Love you,

So often it is hard to hear our personal voices in our writing. In Writing with Voice, Tom Romano describes voice as “the writer’s presence on the page. It is the sense we have while reading that someone occupies the middle of our mind, the sense we have while writing that something or someone is whispering in our ear.” I love this phrase, that someone is “whispering in our ear” as we are writing.

Currently, in the online course I am facilitating, we are working on and thinking about our own voices in our writing. During my online research-which I often do when beginning to write or explore a topic-I read that one strategy for helping folks develop their voice was to write a letter to a friend and then notice the personal voice that screams out. Above is my attempt at that. Could you hear my voice? I bet so!

I read that students who often have the most voice in their pieces are the ones who spend a lot of time journaling. It must be easiest to write with voice when you are writing about the most personal and meaningful topics. This makes me wonder: can we ever separate voice from emotion and passion?

Clearly, emotion is right at the surface of my letter to my best friend, Ashley. I was describing how desperately I missed my daughter when she was sick. So, in addition to having students journal, write letters to their friends, or write like they talk, maybe we should encourage them to always try to find some sort of emotional connection to their writing. What about that topic makes you passionate? What grabs you in the gut and makes you want to pour out your heart and soul? Is that the trick to finding voice in our writing? Try finding an emotional connection with your next piece. Dig deep to find your passion.