Spring is the same year after year. Flowers shoot up through the ground and bloom. Trees carry buds which flower and morph into yellow umbrellas and then into green canopies, lighting up against the gray, wet skies. But the fabulous part of this whole Spring production is that while each Spring carries the same template, no two Springs are the same. No two daffodils are identical. Each year, the shining canopies of fresh leaves are unique.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing in my voice. By this I mean, whose voice I am really using as I write. Is it me, is it who I want to be, is it who I think someone else wants me to be? Or have I been avoiding who I really am, so that others can think I am someone that I really not. Sometimes we work so hard to avoid being ourselves that we end up forgetting who and what really composes our true self. There’s a tight balance between the control required to produce quality work (in writing, in art, and in music,) and between being a voice or an expression that truly mirrors the soul within us. Creativity is more control than it is wild expression. It takes time, maybe even years to stop writing or producing for someone else, to truly be oneself, but to meld the learning from others and the self awareness inside into a quality performance.
Take a child. Children copy. And then they make connections between what they copy here and what they learn there and what they think inside their own brains. And they often “think for themselves.” At some point in life, what they (we) produce is a compendium of mirrored thought and original thought. I used to think that every piece of productive, creative work had to be entirely original. Then slowly, I realized that artists everywhere form their identities, at some point, by depending on others. Some stay close to modeled templates, maybe improving or changing slightly. Some release themselves like birds from a cage and go off to build their own fantastic nests.
I’ve come to think there is nothing inherently right or wrong with either path, as everyone’s capacity for creativity is different. The important thing is to find, within one’s creative template, a voice so unique, so individual, that no one could be that voice but the owner, and then to keep that voice alive and heard.
Don’t stop your voice because it might sound like someone else’s voice. Don’t chop off your tree branches because your neighbor has the same tree. Don’t be afraid to produce and create and plant a new flower that no one has ever seen, in case they compare it to ones they have seen. Just walk out into the fresh, flowery scented air, and breath and let your voice carry over the breezes. Eventually it will find the perfect landing spot and erupt into a canopy that is the exact fit for your universe.