Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 18, 2009

Those Voices in Our Heads

Yesterday I had tea and cookies, after a walk, with a friend. We talked about our writing – hers feeling somewhat fragile at the moment, but she devotes two sacred mornings a week– and the illnesses and deaths of good friends. My friend’s friend died almost six years ago, which she sometimes can’t believe. My friend Pat died more recently, and I talked about how I’m doing okay, but am not what I’d come to feel familiar with as “myself.” Sometimes I see the sun and a bowl of blueberries on the table in the porch, the dogs sleepy at my feet, my husband doing his morning’s reading, and this little voice comes: these are good things. Oh, yeah. Of course.

The narrator with her arrow displays – blue sky: good! – is coming to me less and less. Life, as they always tell you, does its going on thing. But my friend made the connection of this inner narrator to the one she sometimes hears when writing. My narrator has learned patience over the years, but hers will mock the process, tear into the drafts before they’ve had a chance to breathe, want to shove those drafts to an internal editor seconds after they’ve reached paper, which is way way too early.

I remember tortured writing moments when I heard those voices, and I feel lucky they’ve mostly faded. Some of that must be the time thing. Some of it is hearing them, sometimes typing the mean words right onto my paper, then when editing time comes, happily selecting them all in a pretty blue and hitting delete. Ha! I gave you words a chance, now get lost. I suppose all of us have a variety of voices in our heads. When we sit with paper, we sit with them, and get to decide which we’ll honor and which will fade, winding in and out like grief. Everything comes in and everything can go out, but we get to choose what we want to be loudest, and what we want to last. Not chasing tragedy or a love story or a great battle between good and evil, but just trying to make one small thing – our selves, a story – whole.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. I’ve experienced much loss in the past year, too, but I’ve never made the connection to my own writing. Thank you, thank you, Jeannine. These insights give me something to meditate on while I get ready to tackle my manuscript anew.

  2. ” … happily selecting them all in a pretty blue and hitting delete.”
    Oh, what a powerful tool this is, Jeannine. I am going to try this; just let the doubtful words spill onto the page and then–WHACKO–delete them with the strike of a key. I love it.

  3. Yes…when I had a loss in my mid-20s, I remember looking at the sunny days in bewilderment, as if I couldn’t quite figure out how I should feel about the warmth and beauty. And I can see how that relates to writing, as well, thanks to your post.

  4. What a beautiful post, Jeannine. I think some internal voices do dim as we grow older and others sing louder about beauty…and loss…and bewilderment, as Robinellen says.

  5. Thanks, Melodye. Good luck with the manuscript-tackling (and the grieving, with all its twists)

  6. I really do find it more efficient to let things out, then sweep them away, rather than trying to never give the words a chance onto the page. Good luck!

  7. I “think” there’s some connection — thank you!

  8. I do feel a bit more able to see some beauty in things as they are, than how I would make them be if I were ruler of all things; so, yes, that is some kind of blessing.

  9. Thanks for this reminder that–while we may not always have the control we want–we can have some choice.

  10. “When we sit with paper, we sit with them, and get to decide which we’ll honor and which will fade, winding in and out like grief. Everything comes in and everything can go out, but we get to choose what we want to be loudest, and what we want to last.”
    I’m letting your wise words settle into the quiet of my Sunday morning. It seems we settle into the understanding that we can’t control life, but–and I love the way you say it–we can decided what to honor. Beautiful post, Jeannine

  11. We have to keep reminding ourselves, I guess. Hope your weekend went well, Becky!

  12. Thanks, Lorraine. Hope your blue raincoat is nearby and you’re keeping the quiet and wonder of your retreat with you.

  13. Such a great strategy for coping – to put all the hard stuff on the page. Feel free to delete it too.
    But the truth is, somehow it does inform our writing – eventually that stuff will color our stories. And it will connect with our readers as well.
    This is why we write isn’t it? To figure things out.

  14. “we get to choose what we want to be loudest, and what we want to last.”
    Wonderful words from a wonderful writer.

  15. Trying to make one small thing – our selves, a story – whole
    So hard to do this sometimes, but worth the struggle. Thinking of you — feeling both sad for your losses, and grateful for your wise heart.

  16. Joyce, that’s so well put. Thank you! And yes, it is exactly why we write.

  17. Thank you, Nancy. Enjoy the tugboat and salt air!

  18. It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard .. I’ve been hearing Melodye mutter that from across the country, and I’m making weird little movements with my mouth, too. Your kind words make it easier.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: