What Makes Up a Voice

by | Jan 21, 2023 | Larry's Observations

Image: Screen grab from the Maltese Falcon

What Makes Up a Voice

by | Jan 21, 2023 | Larry's Observations

Image: Screen grab from the Maltese Falcon
Voice is a lost art, and it is time to resurrect it and make it a new one. This is especially true with the influx of AI and the creation of ChatGPT with its ability to answer questions, and even the audacity to write “poetry.”

Good morning, good day, good evening; whichever you encounter when reading my OBS Post #11. I hope you find yourself well, flourishing and prospering despite the constant prediction of doom.

An aside: Dear Media Darlings, we have enough to do to survive without your constant pouring on of the voice of doom, whose voice I have grown to disdain.

But not yours Gentle Reader, may your life be full of goodness.

Okay, so that’s enough of that. Last week we started talking about this thing called voice and I hope I impressed upon you the importance of operating from your own voice. Voice, everyone’s got one and not everyone uses it. Voice is a lost art, and it is time to resurrect it and make it a new one. This is especially true with the influx of Artificial Intelligence and specifically the creation of ChatGPT which is currently upending the world with its ability to answer questions, and even have the audacity to write “poetry.” So now it is even more important to find thy voice, because ChatGPT does not have one but that will not stop folks from using it.

For me voice is the structure of the being. It is how they gesticulate and communicate into the physical universe from their spiritual center. It is the viewpoints they have and share. It is the very essence of humanity with their own distinctive thrust.

If you were to investigate literary references voice is a combination of the vocabulary (how large and how used by the writer), their unique point of view and how they make the words come together from phrases and sentences to paragraphs and beyond. There are several other elements that contribute to this voice such as tone, imagery, rhythm, and diction. A writer can step into and assume a multitude of voices as spoken by their characters.

But and this is a big but (no pun intended), it is how the writer puts it all together that make it their voice. Call it the big voice if you will. You can often recognize a writer’s work just the way they write, and it doesn’t matter for a moment what the characters are spitting out of their mouths. The voice is the person that stands behind the words being written or being spoken. That big voice belongs to the writer and is most sacred.

But Larry you say I am not a writer, I’m a painter or a sculptor or a musician don’t I have a voice? Yes, you do! Every artist if not every being has a voice. The artist’s voice is not their technique, although that contributes and is a vital part of the voice. In any composition there is the moment of creation and that creator, the spiritual being, reaches out into the universe and creates a song, a painting, a poem or whatever they darn right feel like creating. They create it in their own unique voice. Voice is the characteristic trait that comes across on the page, canvas, score, and most importantly life! The voice is uniquely you!

So how do you find this thing called voice. It is one of those things that is not easy to discover while at the same time not all that hard. It takes place at the beginning of the discourse. Or as Robert De Niro said in Taxi Driver in 1976 (gosh, was it that long ago?) You talkin’ to me? Now that was some kinda voice, I must say.

Since we all have a distinctive style of our own, the key point in finding that voice is that when someone discovers your creation, they know it is you. Being able to convey your thoughts into your medium with certainty guides you to your voice. Someone had to utter that thought and how it is uttered by you.

Five Key to Finding Your Voice

Here are my keys to finding your voice. You may find others, or some of these ideas may not work for you. Finding one’s voice can be elusive but once found it is grand and you can truly channel your creativity knowing that it will sound, see, or hear successfully. I want to thank Leo Babauta for help in charting this under-described magical formula.

  1. Create in excess. The more you create the more your voice will emerge. I don’t care what kind of artist you are or just the man in the street. Keep creating and then create some more. It could b something so simple as how you fold your laundry – do it with class and grace. Everything we do is art when you do it with voice.
  2. Be a copycat. Initially as a writer I would take writers and poets I liked and rewrite what they had written in their own words. Slowly, I found myself evolving and creating work that was totally my own. By the way I did this as an experiment not to be published by copying someone else’s work.
  3. Listen, Listen, Listen to yourself. Capture your own thoughts and keep steady on your course. Take your own advice. Use your gut to create with.
  4. Strip your creation down to its basic elements. Toss out complexity, keep it raw and naked. You can always adorn it later but simple is better. The more you strip away the clearer your creation will be.
  5. Cutting through the noise. There is so much chatter in the world today, so much meaningless drivel. You don’t want to contribute to the noise factor but your creation with the purpose of generating a great effect. It will cut through the chatter like a hot knife.
  6. Put your voice to work. Find a cause you want to be part of and use that cause to help you create. Your voice will cease to stay in the background but will come forth with total respect. You have a voice – use it!

And we end off with one of my favorite scenes from the Maltese Falcon as Sidney Greenstreet says to Humphrey Bogart.

Lawrence George Jaffe

Lawrence George Jaffe

Lawrence George Jaffe is an internationally known and an award-winning writer, author, and poet. For his entire professional career, Jaffe has been using his art to promote human rights. He was the poet-in-residence at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, a featured poet in Chrysler’s Spirit in the Words poetry program, co-founder of Poets for Peace (now Poets without Borders) and helped spearhead the United Nations Dialogue among Civilizations through Poetry project which incorporated hundreds of readings in hundreds of cities globally using the aesthetic power of poetry to bring understanding to the world.

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