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In My Own Voice

8 Comments 05 October 2010

Right now I am surrounded by index cards. They have a bunch of scribble scrabble that I have written on them. Ideas that I want to communicate that have been provoked by an array of sources. I want to be a writer. I think I can communicate well through the written word. There are things that I want to write about. But at this moment, I feel overwhelmed.

One of my notes says, “Bird, by bird, buddy.” It is a quote from Anne Lamott’s book by the same title, Bird by Bird. In it Anne tells this story,

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

I just want to take it bird by bird. I know that there is something inside of me that needs to be said, but I am daunted by the voices that tell me it is unworthy of being written down. On good days I want to write and say something remarkable, but on most days, I seldom write and when I do, it is seldom remarkable.

But as I wrote a while back, on my little blog, at least now I know what I am fighting (writing) for…now I know that I am fighting for my voice, for my life, for understanding and my desire to give that understanding away to others.

So, for now, though there is no lovely muse sitting on my shoulder dictating what I shall say in this little e-book that I am writing, I will write it, bird by bird.

[I want to give a disclaimer here, a disclaimer that I am not a sage, I am a learner. I do not know THE way to rediscover a voice, but I am simply going to write about the ways in which I have begun to find mine. The experiences that have both silenced my voice and those which have revived it and given it both volume and strength.]

Lamontt says, “And the truth of your experience can only come through in your own voice.” So, in this e-book of mine, the challenge will be to truly write about my voice, in my own voice.

What challenge lies ahead of you that is overwhelming?  Do you fear failure if you risk the pursuit?  Are you willing to take it on, “bird, by bird?”

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8 Comments so far

  1. michele says:

    i love the story anne tells in that book about her son, sam, when he was little and the front door key.

  2. Jen says:

    I love you, Jorja. Thank you for encouraging me to limp along bird by bird, and to fight for and develop my voice and to help others here in NY find and develop theirs!

  3. wendi says:

    hey jorja. thanks for writing this. i would say my challenge i revisit again and again is the one of living out here in such an expensive city. it goes against everything i was taught–knowing that we will probably rent for the rest of our lives–never own a home. to know that we won’t have any equity to retire on–or any place to leave our children that is full of memories.
    it is a shift. a shift i haven’t fully made–a shift in thinking that there are certain ideals i give up by getting to live here. and i do risk failure. failure of not saving enough, failure of dining out once too much–having one too many glasses of wine. should i really replace that 20 year old couch that you gave me 12 years ago? will i fail at being generous b/c i have kept so much for myself? am i failing my children b/c they have a wii and i didn’t even have cable television until i got to college? i try to take it bird by bird…which is what i’m doing this week in planning on which dining chairs to buy…it may sound silly, but it is overwhelming to me to buy these chairs–knowing maybe if i didn’t…could we save for that house? are the ones we have really so shabby?

    • Jorja says:

      wen, i do think it is a huge shift in paradigm for you. i also believe if you really look more closely at what made your childhood and youth so worthwhile, you will see that it was not that house, but how valuable family was to each of you. i know you know this, but you are building beautiful memories for those boys and that little punkin’ of a girl! you build into them what was foundational to you and it won’t matter where you live. however, that sense of security that we all believe comes from financial stability is elusive. as we have pretty much made less than what would be considered the ‘poverty level’ these last few years i have seen that it really is all relative. i have friends whose husbands make 10 or even 20 times what we make, but they don’t feel secure, they don’t feel like they have enough. truth be told, we will not ever have enough because we will always think more is better. you are financially wise, and frugal, for that matter, but you don’t want your kids growing up thinking that money is about stress. buy what you need, when you need it and don’t consume yourself with useless anxiety about the future. you are a fantastic mother and you need to cut yourself some slack my friend. i love you!

  4. Kristy says:

    I can’t remember whether or not I have ever rec.’d this book to you or not, but I really think you’d enjoy reading WALKING ON WATER by Madeleine L’Engle. It’s about creativity and glory and speaking truth and finding your voice and much much more. I’m re-reading it and just thought to come point you toward it.

    Also, in response to your question above about challenge was overwhelming for me this week, see my blog post below about my storytelling escapade this week. All my insecurities front and center . . .

    • Jorja says:

      kristy, i need to get that book. i will, i promise. so many things that i am currently reading and more that i want to read. hard to keep up with my wish list. loved your poem and know that feeling, all to well…in real life and in having to do skits and what not in my past! thanks for reading…


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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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