Sarah Anne Writes

on voice: when what isn't is as important as what is

WritingSarah Anne Hayes6 Comments

This Sunday is my six-month anniversary in Georgia. Crazy, but true. This year has flown by and I don't know if I like the fact that 2015 is upon us in just a few short weeks.

In so many ways, 2014 was a growing year for me. I prayed some pretty big prayers in January and the Lord answered them in bigger ways than I ever imagined.

When I woke up on January 1, I never would've guessed that four and a half short months later I'd be packing up my bags and moving down south.

In the midst of the quitting one job, starting another, support raising, packing, moving, and getting settled, I had to set the blog aside for a while. As much as it pained me, I accepted that in writing, as in life, there are seasons and if we want to produce a bountiful harvest, sometimes we have to let the ground lay fallow.

So, for much of this year, I've kept this space quiet.

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For the last several weeks, I've been taking a writing course called Story 101.

This is our final week, and yesterday our coach, Elora, asked us to share one realization we've had as a result of the course. As I read the beautiful and freeing things the other women have learned over the last ten weeks, I pondered what I've learned.

When I started back in September, I expected it to jumpstart my writing again. I'd been struggling to find a rhythm, feeling like my voice was off somehow. I expected to have that giant AHA moment where I finally realized this is the thing that I've been missing, this is why my writing feels so inauthentic and forced.

But that didn't happen.

There's a beautiful quote by author Janette Oke that says, "Sometimes love isn't fireworks, sometimes love just comes softly."

That's what this course has been for me. It wasn't grand revelations or firework moments that unlocked the secret thing that had been holding my writing back. I slowly worked through the material and here, at the end of it, I realized the lesson has been coming softly.

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As writers we talk a lot about "voice." This, of course, doesn't refer to the physical sound of your speaking voice, but rather who you are and how you communicate to the world.

I've learned, while it's important to know what your voice is, it's just as, if not more important, to know what your voice isn't.

I've written about a lot of things on this blog over the last six years. I'm a curious person by nature. I love to ask questions and learn new things and I read books and blogs on nearly every subject. Because I want to learn ALLTHETHINGS, I often want to write about ALLTHETHINGS.

I was afraid to say I didn't talk about something on my blog because what if, one day, I did want to talk about that one thing? What would I do then?

For the better part of the first half of this year, I was busier than I'd been in a long time. I put writing aside because I simply didn't have the space in my brain to brainstorm blog posts, much less the time to actually write them. But after I'd been in Georgia for a few months, the dust began to settle. And as the dust settled, I realized a few things.

I realized your voice isn't just about what it is and what it isn't. It's also about both who you are and who you want to be.

So I began to ask myself those questions.

Who am I? And who do I want to be? What kind of story do I want to be telling with my life and on this blog?

I spent a lot of time processing in my journal and with people. I wrote down a list of the things I want to accomplish in my lifetime — not bucket list items, but things I want to say were true about the way I lived my life. I started putting plans into motion, rearranging priorities, and imagining what life could be like, what kind of person I could become.

Slowly, but surely, change is happening. Am I where I want to be? By no means. I still have a long way to go, but by God's grace, I know I can get there.

And as I began to realize who I am, who I want to be, what I do and don't want this space to be about, my mission for this little corner of the internet finally became clear again.

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Now, I know what you're thinking. What was the result? Who do you want to be? What will this space will be about? What won't it be about?

We'll get into that first question — who do I want to be — in the months to come, I'm sure. In regard to this space, in some ways, it will remain largely the same. But it will be more focused, more intentional.

Here's what I don't want.

I don't want this space to be one of division, derision, or name calling. I don't want it to be one of sensationalism, writing about things just for the clicks. I don't want this to be a space of anger, frustration, or ranting. I don't ever want this to be space where I tear someone down to build myself up.

So what do I want?

I want this space to be one of celebration, learning, and meaningful conversation. I want it to be one of the hard stuff but never in an angry way, where we into the nitty gritty of life because it's necessary, but never forget that kitchen dance parties are always appropriate, hand-written notes will never go out of style, and grocery store flowers can be the best $4 you spend.

So that's what we're about here. I hope you'll stick around.