Saturday, December 11, 2010


Confession: I am struggling to find my voice. What is this elusive thing called voice, anyway? Shouldn’t it automatically come out when we write—or is it wholly evident to others when we feel the least bit self-conscious?

I had an experience when I was in middle-school drama that seems to confirm this. I hated the class. I got sick when in front of a group of people that were all looking at me. Waiting for me to perform. However, one day I was feeling a little bold. I decided I didn’t care. I was pretending to be a stick of gum, after all, and there was no dignity in that. So I just let go—and I couldn’t believe the response. It was all I could do to stay in character with everyone nearly falling out of their seats as they were.

Is that how you find your voice? I think a huge part of it is being unafraid. So, why is it so hard to overcome the need to protect our weaknesses, hide them from the world? As artists, we almost have to put our weaknesses on display, and smile like we just don’t care. Also, we have to speak our hearts without fear. We have to put our deepest emotions out while overcoming the vulnerable feeling it brings. I always have dreams that I’m showering, only to look around and suddenly realize the shower’s one of the displays at Home Depot. I wonder if this has anything to do with that?

Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to hide my emotion. I struggle so much to overcome that. What about you? What have you done to find your “voice”?

“Inspiration may be a from of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness.” Aaron Copland

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Someone Else's Story

Have you ever wanted to write someone else’s story? In the beginning, it was books like Harry Potter that made me want to write. The problem was, when I sat down with pen in hand, planning to whip out my own magical tale, the only thing that came to mind was Harry Potter. Once, in desperation, I prayed, “I can never be like J.K Rowling!” It was one of those rare times that the answer came immediately: “You don’t have to be her; you are you.” What surprised me was that these words came to mind as if the idea was something good, something to be pleased with. It took me off-guard a little. That’s when I discovered if I could truly figure out how to be me (and this applies to any of us), our works can be amazing in their own right (see The Power to Dazzle).

Spencer W. Kimball said, “What God-given roles each of us could play in this great divine drama! What satisfying personal lives we can live!” I feel both hope and distress in that comment. I mean, why are we not given a set of instructions at birth? Even a fortune cookie would do. I want specifics! I don’t want to die and be like, dang, I just wasted my whole life. It can’t be that hard to find out who we are, can it? But yes, it can, if we are always looking to be like someone we admire instead of who we are.

Dale Carnegie said, “You are something new in this world. Be glad of it. Make the most of what nature gave you. In the last analysis, all art is autobiographical. You can sing only what you are. You can paint only what you are. You must be what your own experiences, your environment, and your heredity have made you. For better or for worse, you must cultivate your own little garden. For better or for worse, you must play your own little instrument in the orchestra of life.”

You can’t try to be successful, you can only try to be a better you. You can do nothing but make yourself better than you were. You must allow a period of trial and error, of experimentation. And how can anyone do that with all the pressure of trying to be good?

“Man is asked to make of himself [only] what he is supposed to become to fulfill his destiny.” (Paul Tillich)