Oh my! It’s been such a busy week.
Today, I’ve actually had some time to rest, for the first time in about a week. And you know, it feels nice. I’m eating dinner as I type: a chicken hot dog on a whole-wheat bun with ketchup, a sliced heirloom tomato with salt, and steamed carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower with a pat of Olivio, which is a butter and olive oil blend. And for dessert, blueberries and low-fat cottage cheese.
Over the weekend, I went back to the antiques shop and bought two more pretty things. The first is this collection of shelves:
I love mission-style shelves and stands, and these were particularly inexpensive. And I saw these silver salt and pepper shakers and thought they would be useful:
And today, in the mail, I got a bottle of my new favorite perfume: Pacifica’s Persian Rose, which does actually smell like a garden of old roses.
I mention all this because, as I’ve said before, pretty things get me through. Whether it’s a dinner that makes me feel healthy and balanced, or furniture that makes my space neater. Or the scent of roses, which is the freshest, sweetest scent I know.
As you know, I spent this week fixing things, but I think they’re all fixed now. So I can go on to the other things I need to do, which are preparing to teach at Odyssey and writing my Folkroots column. Although I’ve actually been working on both of those things for a while now. I just need to pull what I’ve already done together.
My talk for Odyssey will be on Finding Your Voice(s), and I’m thinking about that phrase in three ways. First, in terms of your identity as a writer: what is your individual voice? Second, in terms of the voices in your stories: the voices of your various characters, as well as your narrator who is, of course, a character as well. And third, in terms of what you can give voice to. Can you give voice to something that has no voice? Can you make an ant speak? How about a city? I think of these three ways of talking about voice as focused on identity, versatility, and diversity.
Obviously, I’m not going to give you the substance of my Odyssey talk. You’d have to come to Odyssey for that. But I thought it might interest you to know what I’m going to talk about and how I’m thinking about it. And of course I’m going to have exercises. For example, I’m going to ask the students to compare passages written in different voices and try to figure out how those voices are produced. How does the author create the voice in the passage? What sorts of words does he or she use? What sorts of punctuation? So we’re going to get deeply into technique, I think.
I’ve been thinking about voice myself, lately. I started thinking about it last summer at the Sycamore Hill writing workshop, where a fellow writer said, about a story I had written, “I wanted a Theodora Goss story.” And I had to think about what that meant, what a Theodora Goss story was. Particularly what that meant to me, to write like myself. I realized that there was a Theodora Goss story, that there was a voice that was authentically mine. Which didn’t mean that I couldn’t experiment with other voices, of course. But underneath every voice I wrote in, there had to be something of myself. The story as a whole had to be a Theodora Goss story, had to belong to me. I realized that I wanted to write in my voice. (Friends of mine have used pseudonyms, but somehow, I don’t think I ever will.)
So I’m looking forward to typing up the notes I’ve made for my talk, which is what I’ll do tonight. And then I have some critiquing of student stories to do. And Thursday I’ll drive up and meet the students. I don’t think it even entered my head, when I went to Odyssey a decade ago, that someday I would be teaching there myself.
I’ve also been thinking about teaching, just in general. I’ve wondered, in the past, if I would ever give up teaching to just write, if I had the opportunity. And you know what? I don’t think I would. I love teaching too much. It gets me out, gets me talking. And I love working with students.
I have so much to do this summer, but I know that I’m heading to a place where I’ll have incredible opportunities: to write, to teach, to be the self I want and was meant to be. I’ll leave you with one thought: what I’ve been working on all this week is the Secret Project. And I think it’s going to be beautiful. I can’t wait to tell you more about it.