Finding My Voice


I took a two week writer's workshop at City College taught by Marie-Elena John (pictured above center, in red), author of the critically acclaimed novel Unburnable. The workshop was advertised as a how-to course on writing your first novel, the reason I signed up.

Marie-Elena is a sweet, passionate, sincere woman plagued by Antigua time -- the equivalent of African time multiplied by three, sprinkled with a bit of salt, and served with local rum. I came the first couple of days, ditched the next day, came another couple days, ditched the next day, and showed up religiously the last four days to finish out the two-week workshop.

During the workshop, I sat in class critiquing the hell out of other people's work as if I knew something about writing. (Maybe the evidence supports that I do, but I have an incredible amount of self doubt around its validity.) This voice kept coming out of me when I spoke that made everybody stop to listen. It was a voice I hadn't heard from myself before. It was bold and certain, did not harbor the same apprehensions as I do personally. It sounded a bit like my blog, far bolder than I am in person.

So. Although I was kicking and screaming the whole time, the single greatest gift the workshop gave me was an opportunity to confront my self-doubt, even if only to sit with it like a friend for a couple of weeks. I haven't a clue what I'm doing, really, when I say that I am writing. It is amorphous, a bit cliche, and terrifying when I have to sit inside my insecurity for three or four hours a day and actually write.

At any rate, and likely because of my fear (which only exists to be vanquished), I have officially turned in my leave of absence papers to NYU and put film on hold. I need to finish this book so I can find my voice, grab hold of it, and run full tilt into the future. I leave school only to give myself a year to revel in my insecurity and, hopefully, learn to trust it.

I can't help but think that it is my own voice I am trying to become. Not thinner or prettier, taller or more fashionable, but rather bold, certain, and unapologetic.

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