Thursday, December 1, 2011

Voices

More individuals are coming out of the closet, going relatively public with their inner life, but you are still reticent about sharing your predilections.

If your public affirmation had to do with sexuality or politics, that you had of a sudden discovered you were gay or a conservative, you don’t think you’d be as chary, but with the specter of evangelism hopping and skipping over the terrain with boundless tantivy, you’re not so sure you’re willing to risk being lumped in with them.

The matter at hand is voices, not the singular, the narrative voice of which you have had frequent occasion to examine and espouse, rather the plural, making you in a way a strange bedfellow with Joan.  Yes, that Joan.  The one who heard voices.

You can say with some certainty that your voices have never told you to go forth and raise an army.  Nevertheless, they were voices.  You’d heard them even before Rachel, your mentor, told you she heard them, which was no small relief since it meant you were not as batty as you’d begun to suspect.  Also, you figured that if she, your mentor, heard voices, how bad a thing could it be?  Didn’t it as well indicate you might dare to hope there were other signals attesting your being a writer?

Over time, it came to you that individuals who were writers were either those who heard voices or who saw visions.  Those who heard voices “heard” their stories being more or less dictated to them, not in the direct way of an employer dictating a letter to a steno, but close enough, perhaps having to go over a phrase or two here and there, perhaps even having to tweeze a word out of the gap between you and the voice.

Individuals you knew who had visions tended to see the story unfold as though projected on a screen.  Learning that there was this other type solidified your notion that you were not the batty individual you’d feared, merely different, an outsider (except when you were being an insider, but more of that another time, suffice it to say you were removed, out on the margins, an observer, other rather than alien.  You could take cover in other, being alien would mean someone too conspicuously outside the conventional.

For a time, you envied the “seers,” thinking they had an advantage.  That envy no longer obtains, it simply meant you had not yet reached any kind of plateau where you wanted to be “serious” about what you did and what you hoped to do.

Your voices were like ensemble casts reading books aloud; they spoke often as the characters did.  When they tended to sound alike, you knew you did not know them as well as you ought.  Back to the drawing board, where biography, theme, basic goals had to be pried out like the walnut from its shell.

This makes it sound easier than it is; the voices seeming to sound alike is only one thing you have to watch out for and repair.  Sometimes your after work thoughts sound the way you must sound when you talk, which means that even when you are not hearing voices, you are still hearing you, and since you are a person with some range of moods and attitudes, you could say that you have voices for the multiplicity that is you.

In a manner suggestive of the way some individuals—yourself included—carry about grocery lists, you carry a list of priorities:

1.  Don’t talk too long.
2.  Try not to be boring.
3.  Try not to sound sarcastic.
4.  Try even harder not to be boring.
5.  Limit the number of times you use the pronoun I.
6.  Maximize the use of the pronoun you.
7.  Try not to say fuck or its gerund, fucking, so often.
8.  Try to avoid seeing how many prepositions you can connect with fuck, as in fuck around, fuck over, fuck with, and fuck up, or the noun form, fuck-up
9.  Limit your use of the passive voice.
10.  Learn to say no without saying fuck no.
11. Learn to say yes.

This is for yourself as much as it is for others to whom you speak.
Sometimes you catch yourself thinking or saying fuck as a strategy to avoid boring yourself.

Some of these things must be learned.

By rote.

Repeat after yourself…

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