Voice

Physical voice and writing voice and how I’m learning to tolerate mine.

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I’ve never liked my voice. I’m not talking about literary voice, here. I mean my physical, in-person voice. It sounds okay filtered through the bones in my head, but the moment I first heard it recorded, on a tape the neighbor kids and I recorded ourselves on with my sister’s boombox, I recoiled. It managed to be both too high-pitched and too deep at the same time. It still sounds like this, recorded on voicemail, so it wasn’t just the tape. It has a sort of echoey quality, as if two people were talking in unison. Seems like it might be nice, right? Like I’m harmonizing with myself? No. It is not. It is weird, and it doesn’t sound like me. The voice that sounds sort of calm and measured and grown-up and gender-neutral in my head is none of those things outside of my head. It’s not like I had dreams of being a famous singer or anything, but still. It’s disappointing.

My writing voice is kind of the opposite: thin and flat and quiet. There’s no drama in my voice, no hint of a soundtrack to give you the right feelings when it’s not completely clear how you should feel about the events. Maybe that’s why I like to introduce sudden life-threatening events in the middle of stories. Understated interpersonal conflict, and then EXPLOSION! Except, in my writing voice, it’s more like: “There was some interpersonal conflict and then there was an explosion, which was no big deal, but it did change some things.”

By this point I guess I should just work with what I have instead of trying to change it, which means… probably more explosions.

Author: Bethany Harvey

I’m a biologist, environmental educator, occasional firefighter and reluctant cubicle monkey living in North Carolina. I write literary short stories and SFF novels, and hope to someday figure out why it doesn’t work the other way around. You can find me yelling about politics on Twitter (@bethanyharvey) or about under-appreciated wildlife at OverlookedNature.com.

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