Voice Without a Face

Last month I took part into a writing challenge called Writing101 – I haven’t written too often for that one, but I still managed to publish two short posts: one about a mysterious letter and the other about personalities that are so different, yet have so much in common.

Writing201 has started this week, and the first workshop is about finding our unique perspective in writing, our own voice. It immediately reminded me about an interesting question someone asked me the other day:

‘Why don’t you have a mouth?’

He was obviously referring to my profile picture (click here for a full-size image), and I know the question was somehow funny, but it made me think. Indeed, I don’t have a mouth in that photo. It’s a drawing of Violet B., my favourite character from my favourite books – it belongs to winsane on deviantart, no copyright infringement intended – and I am unsure about the reason why the mouth is missing. But I’ve realised I don’t need a mouth in order to have a voice, if that makes sense. Just like Les yeux sans visage – Eyes without a face… Cause if you look closely, you’ll see that Violet possess something as powerful as a mouth, or, why not, perhaps even more powerful when it comes to the message that is being delivered: a feather.

It’s somehow a difference between a message that is written and one that is spoken. It’s much easier to write, but I’m not sure it’s always the right way (I’ve explained a similar idea here). Cause if you look at Violet and mentally draw her a mouth, how would that be? A wide smile? 😀 A shy one? 🙂 Or perhaps the expression of sadness? 😦 Or broken-hearted? It depends, it could actually portrait almost any emotion; but no matter her appearance, she’s still writing. She may write funny thinks while she’s sad, or sad things while she’s happy. You’ll only have the written message and the ‘voice’ associated with it, not the actual voice which would quite clearly provide details about her feelings. But it’s still a voice, a perspective of a writer. You can never be sure if that’s her real voice, or if it’s the feather which puts those words on the paper.

You can quite easily change voices when you’re writing. The same way you do when you switch languages – if you can speak more than one, of course. And just as it takes time to learn a language, the same way it takes time to find your voice. ‘Let her find her own voice, even if she has to try on the voices of a hundred others first to do so‘, I was quoting in my post about writing. And I know it’s true, but the same way you learn a language only by speaking it, you discover your writing perspective by… writing.

And the main quality of a writing voice is, I believe, to be capable of spreading certain feelings. If the reader can actually feel what you’re talking about, then you’re on the right way to finding a voice that’s suitable for both of you. A voice spreads feelings the same way the appearance does. ‘Are you okay?’ is the most confusing question ever, cause it means that someone perceived some feelings from you, a certain sensation, which may or may not be what you intended. And when a random man asked me this question, while we were waiting at a traffic light and I probably had a lost look in my eyes, I blinked. What wouldn’t I be okay? Well, I could think of a few reasons, but still. What made that person ask me that?… And I remembered another quote from Sherlock… ‘Are you okay? Don’t just say you are, because I know what that means, looking sad when you think no one can see you‘…

The workshop is about finding the voice that describes what you want to describe in the best way possible. But does that voice match you as a person? Does it complete you, rather than splitting your personality in two? Does it show the others who you really are, instead of giving them false sensations the way a deceiving appearance does? And most importantly, does it make you, you?…

The Betrayal of the Body

cry

I was watching Sherlock last week – the TV series shot in London. If you’re living in London or you’re planning to visit it soon, you should definitely watch this. It made me wonder if an explosion would start right in the building behind me, if someone was going to be shot from a roof, and other ordinary things like these (perhaps I’m a little paranoiac, or most probably I just have too much imagination, plus I’m bored). Actually a similar situation happened when I arrived in this town where I’m going to spend most of my summer: it reminds me of Miss Marple’s village. For those of you who don’t know, miss Marple is an intelligent old lady from some of Agatha Christie’ novels, who solves murders and crimes that happen in her village. I was tempted to tell an elderly couple that lives near me about the resemblance, but I changed my mind in the last second – I guess it’s not quite a proper thing to say, the fact that you can easily see something bad happening in the area.

But anyway, back to Sherlock. The episode was The Hound of Baskerville, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, which is one of the only two Sherlock Holmes novels I’ve read. So the plot was not unknown to me, but I still enjoyed it, cause my memory is not that good when it comes to remembering details from one of the hundreds novels and stories that I’ve ever read. There was something that Sherlock says, after confronting a situation that seemed supra-natural. ‘My body’s betraying me. Interesting, yes. Emotions.’ – he was shaking, something very unusual for such a great detective, to shake from fear. And I remembered that quote when something similar happened to me, later.

I suppose that indeed all of us had moments when the mind couldn’t control the body – something serious, like fainting, or more usual, like shivering from cold. But this one was something quite new to me. I was walking through the town centre, where some live band or something was performing in a backyard of a restaurant. I didn’t really pay much attention to it. Actually I only heard the last few notes of a song, while passing by. At least I assume I’ve heard them. It happens to me quite a lot, unfortunately, to meet someone new, and forget their name after one second. Or well, I can’t use ‘forget’, cause ‘forget’ means that you knew it once, while in this case the name never enters my mind. So, I’ve heard the notes, but didn’t particularly pay attention to them. I just made a few more steps, until I blinked, and I realised something wasn’t right. I could feel my eyes slowly being filled with tears.

What’s happening? I blink again, keeping the tears in my eyes instead of allowing them to start flowing on my cheeks – I am in the middle of a crowd, after all. And I suddenly remember the song that has just finished. I can suddenly label those last few notes that my body recognised before my memory did. The kind of notes that feel as if someone touches specific strings of an inner guitar… and you just can’t resist them. And if it brings you memories, the intensity is even stronger – you can’t run from your memories, can you? My body is betraying me, indeed... And that’s not how I used to be, that’s not the way I want to react, that’s not the shape of my heart…

Come On, Don’t Be Shy…

eye

I was thinking about an idea from my previous post, that we tend to postpone tasks and leave them until tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and so on. But there are some certain tasks that you will never do, and you’ve already missed the chance. Why? Because, sadly, you’re too shy…

Most certainly there has been at least one situation in your life when you couldn’t say anything, because you felt too shy (and if you can’t remember any situation, you’re either too confident, or have a short memory). Being shy is not exactly a problem, but most certainly not being shy has more advantages. Think about the process of making new friends, for instance. Shy people will obviously tend not to socialise that much, they won’t probably start any conversation, cause they are too shy to introduce themselves to people. And the others will perhaps just ignore them, until someone will realise they need a chance as well. Shy people are better listeners, and they can have really good opinions, if someone asks them. But what if they don’t ask? Then it’s the shy person who should take a deep breath and start talking.

Actually this leads me to another situation: getting a job. The employer searches, indeed, for someone who is smart and capable to do the job, but they may as well want to find someone who is keen to share their ideas, who can speak to their mind and perhaps come with a better solution than the one proposed by the employer. They want someone who is not afraid of saying what they think, in case it’s something wrong. Cause as least they’ve tried. And that’s the thing with being shy: you lose so many opportunities.

Whether it’s just about getting to know those people who may become your closest friends, if you actually go and talk to them now, or something more challenging – like having the courage to let that special person know your feelings -, shyness can be overpassed. You just have to believe in yourself. Cause what’s the worse that could happen? They may laugh at your new idea, they may ignore you when you try to speak to them, they may not like you, and that person may reject you. But at least you’ve tried. At least you now know what’s the situation, and now you can get over it, or approach it differently. Indeed things may change just because you had the courage to speak your mind – for instance, your friendship may never be the same now that you finally said what you felt, and it didn’t work. But hey, rather than having regrets in the future and thinking ‘What if…?‘, shouldn’t you take the chance you have now?

I don’t consider myself a shy person. If I had been shy, or some other specific persons had, then I wouldn’t have been through everything that made me realise I have to write this blog. I admit, however, that I had moments when I felt shy, and I’m pretty sure there’ll be others as well. I felt shy when I hesitated to say the answer in class, not being confident that it was indeed the right answer; I felt shy when I had to talk to someone I liked; I felt shy even in front of my screen, with a specific chat conversation that waited for my response. Actually it’s interesting to see how different we speak when we chat online rather than taking in person. Interesting, but quite common – at least I suppose I’m not the only one who finds some things easier to say when typing. And it shouldn’t be like that.

I’ve never heard about netiquette until someone told me to be aware of these Internet rules, or etiquette. Basically it looks like you shouldn’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be able to say face to face. And it makes sense, but I suppose you could at least have a starting point online. I still remember how I used to write long messages in Notepad++, read them 10 times and change them twice, before pasting them in the right chat window. And then forcing myself to press Send. And then waiting impatiently while the other was typing, and thinking about what I was going to say (write) next. I wasn’t that shy; though I was unaware that once spoken (sent), words cannot be forgotten, just forgiven. (a nice quote which isn’t mine)

So it’s easy not to be shy online, but you know what’s the hardest thing to do, that we’re not always aware of? It’s hard not to change your personality while chatting online. It’s hard to stay the same person that you actually are in real life, it’s hard to make sure that you respect the netiquette for each and every line you say. It’s not impossible, though. I’d say that chatting can indeed be a starting point, but once you’ve overpassed your shyness online, you really have to struggle and talk to that person face to face, in the same way you did online. The only thing is to try and be confident. And certainly not only online, or else you’re going to become dependent on this other ‘you‘, the online one, and the more time you spend chatting, the less probable it is that you will indeed try and be like that in real life.

So, if you can’t speak those words, think twice before typing them. Make sure you’re not going to make a huge mistake, that cannot be forgotten even if you delete the whole conversation. Make sure you’re still yourself, and that you take a chance when you have it, preferably when you’re speaking face to face, not online. Once upon a time, I was unable to say something to a guy until our paths in life split, and then, aware of the fact that it was too late, I still managed to get over my shyness and tell him (online, sadly). Lesson learned: never wait until the last moment, it may be too late and you may regret your shyness for a long, long period of time 🙂 Better late than never, but now may be the best.

It’s Always Tomorrow

Screenshot_2014-07-06-00-50-12-1

I was chatting with someone yesterday – just a regular conversation on Facebook – and at some point we ended up taking about a random topic, which was how often we practice sports. I asked him, half joking, half not, when he intended to start going to the gym, like some other friends do. His answer was half a joke, half not: ‘Tomorrow’, he said. And then something happened, something that reminded me why I like talking to people, and especially to people I don’t usually talk (and by talking I also mean chatting).

You find a lot about a person by simply chatting with them. But, perhaps most importantly, you may also find something about you. Something they point out, something that you discover through the conversation, some ideas that you may not find in any other place, or from anyone else. You may find inspiration. Inspiration for deeper thoughts, for deeper discussions, or for a new blog post. So chatting is interesting and useful in the same time, at least for me; and it’s nice to find inspiration in places you didn’t expect to, and from people you barely know – and that’s the fun part when you’re a blogger, right?

I responded without really thinking about it, half laughing, half serious: ‘It’s always tomorrow’. And then I started talking about something else, until he made a remark a few chat lines below, that made me stop. It was the kind of remark I was referring above, the kind of remark that makes you realise you have a starting point for something deeper, the kind of remark that basically makes you think. Cause he said ‘”It’s always tomorrow”… nice ‘.

And I stopped for a few seconds, speechless. I always appreciate when someone is quoting me, it makes my words feel valued, and that’s a nice feeling, to know that someone actually remembers what you’ve said. And even if there have only been a couple seconds between you saying that remark and the other person repeating it, it still matters – perhaps even more. The way he said it, with quotation marks and everything, plus the ‘nice’ adjective, made me realise that indeed it was a nice quote, even if the truth behind it is not that nice – it’s actually a little sad, I think. But I know it’s true, and I wonder what I meant by it… And there was only one way to find out – by writing this post.

We tend to plan everything. Our schedule, our meetings, our lives. We tend to prioritise tasks, to decide which ones are important and which ones can only mean procrastination. But we’re also quite good at running, and I don’t mean exercising (unfortunately), but running from certain tasks, postponing them until later, until tomorrow, until… never. Cause ‘tomorrow’ is just “a mystical land where 99 percent of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored.” (a nice quote I found online).

Will tomorrow be as expected, with all the plans you made the day before?… Are you going to be happy with the fact that you’ve already decided how tomorrow should look like? Are you going to be happy with the fact that you’ve spent ‘today’ thinking about ‘tomorrow’, instead of living the moment? Does tomorrow ever come, actually?

Cause If tomorrow never comes… Will she know how much I loved her? Rather than just assuming she’ll know, you’d better make sure she will. You’d better live in the present and do what you’ve postponed for tomorrow, today. Cause why not? You can’t postpone things forever, so why not getting started on them right now? I admit I need to learn how to live ‘now’, to stop making so many plans for tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and so on… Cause the truth is that you’re missing the present, if your mind is set in the future. And moreover, if tomorrow does come, you’ll have to do those tasks anyway – be them sports, homework, or just a simple thing such as telling someone you love them. And the more you postpone them, the less desire you’ll feel for actually doing them. Remarks such as ‘I’m not in the mood now, so I’ll leave it until tomorrow’ can be so tricky sometimes. Cause believe me, the next day you’ll most probably be even less in the mood for it. The only ‘good’ thing about postponing is that at some point, there’s a deadline when you really must do it, and then it’s done, and congrats, you’ve finally finished the plans you had for X days ago. But what if the deadline doesn’t really exist, and you keep postponing the task until, well, forever? What if you end up being fat because you’re too lazy to exercise, and now you don’t have time anymore? What if you miss the chance of telling what you feel, because you were too afraid, and you lied to yourself by trying to believe that ‘tomorrow’ was a better day? What if tomorrow never comes, and you miss all the chances you had today?…

It’s always tomorrow, but never today… says and old song I found by googling my own quote (cause why not googling your own words?). So stop living in the future, or else you may have regrets at some point, ‘tomorrow’, for not doing all the things when they were meant to, and for being too coward and/or lazy to confronting the present. Cause it’s always ‘tomorrow’, but is tomorrow ‘always’? We usually blame time for not being able to do things today, so we postpone them until tomorrow. But tomorrow is just another day, that will even change its name to ‘today’… Tomorrow is not an infinite period of time, tomorrow is not ‘always’ – unless you postpone it infinitely, which is, honestly, the worse thing you could do. Don’t leave until tomorrow what you could do today, at least not without a really good reason; pretend tomorrow doesn’t come – are you happy with the present, have you done everything that has to be done, today?…

Tomorrow may not be ‘always’, but now is. Now is the answer to the question “When…?” Cause if it’s not now, then it may be never. And you’ll regret not living in the present. If we’d all try to follow the last verse of the song, We’ll forget our tomorrow, and live for today, we’d be much happier. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at some point in the future, we’ll be glad we didn’t waste our time planning instead of actually doing the thing. But it’s hard, isn’t it?…

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You’re always a day away!
🙂