Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Voice

JES left a lovely comment on yesterday's post.  It gave me a frisson of joy and a moment of reflection - I am not used to thinking of myself as a writer who is admired by others.  I enjoy my time on the keyboard, and I am not embarrassed by my output, but the fact that JES, who has written one book and is writing another, and Maid Marian, a widely published author of many novels and short stories translated into 17 languages, have each encouraged me to write a book gives me cause for pause.

Maid Marian paid me a great compliment early on in The Burrow's existence.  She told me that I had a voice.  It's funny how what may have been a throw-away comment from her was so meaningful to me.  

I've always had a noticeable voice.  Ask anyone who has ever heard it.  I was lost at the Grant Park Fourth of July concert in an audience of over 1million people.  I had no idea where TBG had placed the blanket, and I'd been looking for a long long time.  When I tripped over the same family for the third time, I asked them to cover their ears, I drew a deep breath, and I shouted his name.  And there he was, across acres of humanity, pointing to the sound of my voice.

The Cuters could find me in any museum; they stood quietly and listened.  Waiting for my giant wine glasses to be bubble-wrapped today in Tommy Bahama, a gym rat friend walked by and laughed as she hugged me, saying "I'd recognize that voice anywhere." 

It's not that I am loud, although I am.  There's something to the tone, the timbre, the resonance that enables my words to carry to the back of a large and noisy auditorium.  I'm the one you want if you're having trouble gathering the attention of a crowd.  I think that a large part of the reason miked theatrical performances irk me is the fact that my voice can carry. 

There's a bit of New York, though I've not lived on Long Island for 40+ years.  TBG's unaccented Cleveland tones haven't done much to mitigate the intensity of my early years, but Chicago and California have smoothed the edges.  I now have r's.  But every vacation to my parents' home returned me to my children talking so weird, Mom

But it's not my speaking voice that was being complimented.  It was the voice that speaks to you as Ashleigh Burroughs, the voice that does not exaggerate, does not embellish, does not use any of the verbal tricks the real me employs in my everyday conversation. 

It is the voice that is preserved forever, for the great-grandchildren I may never know but who will have a window into my life in the early 21st century.  I think of that when I begin each post.  I've saved every letter anyone has ever written to me; I value the written word.  Taking my words out in public, though, was a leap of faith.  "No one would be interested in what I have to say" was my fallback position.  But The Cuters convinced me to try and now, as 2010 ends, I find that I have written 555 of these essays. 

555 windows. 

555 thumbprints. 

555 love notes to the ether.

555 connections.

Thank you all for listening to my voice.


  1. You do indeed have a voice! You have been most prolific this week; thought provoking, entertaining and enlightening. Do you have a book ready to leap out of you? I sense one.

  2. Ah, MEG, the idea of writing a book is overwhelming and intoxicating at the same time. I like being entertaining and enlightening and I LOVE knowing that I've provoked some thoughts. The blog-muse has been on my shoulder this week, it's true :)

  3. "Voice" is really a hard thing to pull off, because (a) everyone knows how important it is (so everyone gets all worried and self-conscious about expressing it), and (b) the best voices (well, to my thinking) make their writers almost disappear. It used to (may still) be common for beginning poets to imitate E.E. Cummings's crazy typographical and syntactic stunts, and if you challenged them they would (perhaps still do) reply that you were trying to suppress their voice. Uh, no. But you do have a gift.

    Congratulations on the triple 5s! I've got barely over 600, and I can hear your stealthy footsteps about to tiptoe past.

  4. JES, I have been called many things but *stealthy* is not one of them :) I'm clunking and clanging my way past you, one weekday at a time.

    I may have a gift.... you are right... it is you and the rest of the denizens who, by reading what I write, allow me to write it at all.


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