I have laryngitis of my writing voice. It’s very severe. I knew something was wrong a month ago but didn’t think it would get this serious. My voice is just a whisper, a rasp of its usual self. It’s perplexing me but, worse, it makes writing even more of a chore than it usually is. What did I do with it? One week it was singing along and the next, whoosh, gone. I could blame winter but winter has not been around for at least a week. (Well, almost, I should say. Last night — June 1 — there were predictions of frost in the “outlying” areas. It’s all too much.)
I hate it when I lose anything. I go into a big fret if I can’t find my keys or that piece of paper where I wrote down someone’s phone number. I have even been mourning the loss of my little plastic, three-legged, wind-up lamb who has been with me since DC days. One day he was there on the balcony and the next gone. He’s probably a captive in one of those damn-plant-eating squirrel’s nests.
But this missing voice is particularly troubling. I can’t just go out and “replace” it with a new one or get a recycled one down at the corner. No, it took me a long time to develop and trust my tiny writing squeak enough to even call it a Voice. I don’t know what I’ll do without it. But it does seem to have abandoned me at the moment. My voice could have just selfishly decided to take vacation leaving me on my own. Maybe she’s down in Mexico climbing pyramids, or in Australia doing some surfing with Olga. I wouldn’t put it past her, not one little bit. But wherever she is, she has left me here in a literary pickle.
I shouldn’t worry so much about this. I have been trying to follow my favorite, totally mis-quoted, Tao-wise statement about “By not trying to get it you get it,” or something like that. So, as part of this nonchalant approach to my missing voice, I have been playing, once again, endless games of Word Bubbles Rising. My thinking has been that anything to do with words might encourage her to come home. The problem is if you play these word games over and over and over again, eventually the only words you can come up are the same ones that you used the previous fifteen times you played. So I must, finally, admit that I am just totally wasting time and not doing anything constructive to find my errant voice.
But wait a minute, hold the presses. This Total Abandonment of Voice isn’t so new. When I was right smack-dab-in-the-middle of writing Mediterranean Journey my writing voice went AWOL — just up and left without letting me know. Scary stuff. There I was confidently chugging along, putting words and sentences and chapters down on paper. It was good. I, and even the Intrepid Editor, developed a real affection, even admiration for the “voice” who was telling those stories. She was good, flip, funny, intriguing and really enjoyable. And then, boom, just like that, she was gone. Oh, I still put the words down on the paper, told a story, but it didn’t fit with the others. It was like someone totally different had written that story. Panic was ever close at hand. But the only thing to do was to just keep writing, just keep putting words on paper. One day, at the Tik Talk Cafe, she came back again. I didn’t accuse her of abandonment or even ask her where she’d been — she might have gotten upset and left again. No, we just sat down and finished Dubrovnik the way it should have been written in the first place.
So I’ll do the same now. Just keep writing words, and words and words. What else can a writer do, eh? But, you know, she could at least send me a postcard with a “See you soon!” at the end.