Friday, August 22, 2008

What's In a Voice?

"Speak up! Project! I can't hear you!" The gentle yet commanding words of the lengendary theater arts teacher, Mr. Ford, still ring in my ears. I loved the artistry of live theater and the words written by Mr. Shakespeare have no equal. I would read the scripts and feel their power, but the minute I was on stage, the triumphant words of Shakespeare might has well have been coming from the likes of Remy (the mouse of Ratatouille fame).

Throughout my highschool years I served several times as a patrol and senior patrol leader for my Boy Scout troop, but never mastered the art of speaking above the masses. The trend continued through my experience in Navy bootcamp and that is definitely not the place to have a sheepish voice. Years of working alongside Navy Chiefs, Lieutenants, Captains and Admirals, in the bowels of a dirty, noisy, busy ship did help, but I still needed to find my voice.

Years later, through Civil War reenacting, I gradually increased my skills in speaking with others as I was repeatedly called upon to explain aspects of the war and the life of the soldier. Those experiences helped me dramatically. Even so, when speaking to classrooms of middle-schoolers or university students (shameless plug intended to invoke your desire to have me as a speaker), I often find the audience, once actively enaged, to be reaching for something to hear.

Then I found FaithWriters. I posted a few articles and entered a meager number of writing challenges, only to discover that my writing voice echoed my speaking voice. Over the course of the years I have taken the wise counsel of many a FaithWriter and put the advice to the test.

I took a short break and worked intently upon my written words. I went back to the beginning of the novel I have been working on for several years and tweaked a sentence here and removed another there.

As soon as my sabadical from FaithWriters ended, I took some of my reasearch and applied it to a FaithWriters challenge. The comments began to roll in and my jaw nearly hit the table. As the week came to a close and the judging results were posted I expected nothing more than perhaps a brief "honorable mention." When I discovered my entry had earned second place and finally moved me up from beginners to intermediate, I literally jumped from my chair, did a little dance that would have embarrassed me in public, and sounded a great number of personal cheers.

I returned once more to my novel writing and another short break from FaithWriters for some needed vacation and rest. The summer drew to an end and I entered another challenge. Again, having moved into a higher bracket, I didn't expect much. The results came in and I nearly fell out of my chair.... FIRST PLACE!!!! There had to be a mistake! The next day the list of overall rankings came in and out of nearly 200 entries, my little 750 word piece was ranked 16th!

I believe, Mr. Ford, I have found my voice.

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Favorite Books

  • Portals to Hell
  • To Die In Chicago
  • While God is Marching On

Favorite Movies

  • Dances With Wolves
  • Gettysburg
  • Glory
  • Master and Commander
  • Red Badge of Courage