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?…

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