You Have a Voice and It Means Something

In & Of Itself

Last week I was in New York City and had the opportunity to attend In & Of Itself, a one-man show that deals with issues of identity. As you enter the theatre, you have to choose a card to define yourself (as shown above); the show then explores how we see ourselves, how others see us, and how we convey to the world (or not) who we are or what we do. I noticed my reluctance to choose any identity related to writing and publishing—or any label related to my work. (!)

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Jon Chopan discusses how one of his greatest struggles as a writer and human being is to find purpose in what he does, and to help students find purpose. He writes:

Despite the notion that we are voiceless, it seems to me that the challenge of a good creative writing instructor is to teach students that they do indeed have a voice and that their voice, that all our voices in concert, have meaning. … We should be struggling with our students as writers, and students of writing, to leave behind something worth protecting, worth defending, something that contributes to the growth of this culture.

Read his full essay at Glimmer Train.

Also this month at Glimmer Train:

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Diane Gottlieb

Hi Jane! About a month ago, I also went to In & Of Itself and found it deeply moving. Taking the time to consider my own identity and then witnessing others in the same process was testament to the importance of voice. Thanks for reminding me of the experience!

[…] Pat: Your voice I follow several blogs on writing, and this is one of my favorites – and most […]

Dave Malone

Thanks for this post and sharing the short essay at Glimmer Train. At the theater, I, too, would struggle with such a task—can you take 3 or four cards, lol? I would agree with Chopan that student writers should write their own stories and discover the unique thing they have to say (and then comes the question: should these stories be shared? what vessel do they fit in and who cares? I say that not to be contrary but because I’ve published more poems than necessary!). I think it’s great to remember that your audience can just be you and… Read more »

Dave Malone

Ha! That’s awesome. Yes, indeed, worthwhile art tends to do that. 🙂

Cathy Norris

I love that you shared the one man show’s topic on identity and Glimmer Train’s topic on purpose. I currently work daily with individuals who struggle with ‘finding’ their purpose and with clarifying their own identity. A stumbling block that I have noticed through the people I work with is related to the meanings we put to ‘identity’ and ‘purpose’. Are our identities really only related to our occupations? Is it really about ‘finding’ our purpose? I am not yet a published author or consider my self a writer and yet over 25 years ago I declared to my wall… Read more »

Dave Malone

Hey Cathy! I enjoyed your response. It sounds like you have wonderful daily work. 🙂 And I think there’s great freedom in believing we can choose who and how we become. Have you shared that idea with those struggling?

Cathy Norris

Hi David, thank you. I do have wonderful daily work. Freedom is available to all and I do share/get curious with those who are struggling with this. It’s a journey for most since our mind’s stories create all kinds of hallucinations.

Carol Tulpar

Great to meet you yesterday, Jane, at SFU Writers Studio in Vancouver.
I always enjoy your blog posts.
Carol Tulpar