The Voices, or “On Being An Author”

5 Jul

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Well. It’s been a while.

Life is life is life. That’s really all the explanation (or excuse) I have.

But anyhoo. On to what I really want to write about.

Authors. There’s a thing about authors. Actually, there’s many. Authors are pretty weird people, where “weird” is defined as some amalgam of wacky, whimsical, wonderfulness that produces the best of the odd types of this world.

But today, I realized that perhaps one of the primary “things” about authors is that we can talk with someone else’s voice. The butcher’s, the baker’s, the candlestick maker’s. The lion’s, the witch’s, even the wardrobe’s. Just about anybody, really. Even – rather especially – the anybodies that don’t even exist yet.

We can speak with the voice of another. An infinity of tongues come pouring through our minds, a handful or so making it out of our pen nibs or fingertips. We imagine our worlds and the chatter that fills them. And usually, out of the myriad voices that tell our tales, one of them is ours.

Sometimes it’s the heroine’s. Sometimes it’s the narrator’s. Sometimes it’s the villain’s or perhaps the voice of the minor character inconsequential enough to not even merit a name. Sometimes we authors know who’s got our brain on their mind. Sometimes we don’t.

Sometime’s it’s just too much fun to not let our brain tell us who it is and try to figure it out on our own.

But in the end, we are the bringers of voices, the dreamers of dreams, the movers and shakers of this world forever, it seems. Or something like that.

But really, we are the tale-tellers. And I think that’s why I like writing so much. I grew up telling myself stories. They were so much more comfortable than real life (even when I was the tragic lady lying on the daybed dying of tuberculosis or something). My small world’s usual host of voices didn’t hold much to attract or soothe me, so I made up ones that did. The whole I-don’t-like-your-reality-so-I’m-substituting-my-own bit. Except I didn’t like my reality, so I’d substitute fiction.

Even when I was the only character, life was still better with a narrator. Walking down the driveway became a thing of art, instead of just another mundane moment eked out on the black tar of a Midwest suburb. And what’s more, I was never alone. Having some “other” writing my life along with me meant there was always somebody else who understood my thoughts, my emotions. There was “someone else” who would understand the unexplainable, who would know perfectly what I was feeling through all of life’s deep hurts and trivial injustices.

And sometimes… sometimes it was just easier to be someone else. To be a nineteenth century Irish landlord’s daughter running with the crowd of fishing boat captains and twenty-something urchins. To be a precocious young female lawyer in a town of incredulous rural folk. To be the prodigy of Jane Goodall, growing closer than ever before known and infiltrating the mysterious of social circles of… the deer in my backyard… *cough cough*

Sometimes, it was just easier to be someone else. To take on the voice, the words, the life of someone else. And so I did.

And then… and then I became an author.

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