Friday, June 25, 2010

Finding the Song in My Voice

When eighth grader Bryce Lippe was born four months premature, he only had a 15% chance to live. But he did. He can’t see or walk or use his fingers to play a piano, but he has many other gifts. For one, he has a voice.

Several weeks ago, he shared his voice with me and the congregation at Warsaw Community Church. He sat in his wheelchair next to Pastor Denny at the podium, held the microphone in his bent hand, and sang, The Climb, by Miley Cyrus.*

By the time he finished the song, I had goose-bumps on my arms and two tear-drenched tissues in my hand.

Pastor Denny asked him if he had any words of wisdom for the congregation. He reiterated Denny’s message. It went something like this: We all have limitations, challenges, but don’t focus on those. Focus on your gifts, and the way you can become the person God created you to be. Be God’s best version of yourself.

Follow me here.

For the past month, I’ve been trying to find my writing voice. (I’ve looked everywhere for my singing one. It can’t be found.) I’ve read book after book about voice because every agent looks for a strong one. I want one. Do I have one? Can readers hear it in my writing? Does it sound forced?

Then Lisa Harman, my critique partner, recommended Les Edgerton’s book, Finding Your Voice, How to Put Personality in your Writing. Les’ book includes gobs of helpful advice, but the part I love the most is on page 101, and below:

“…no matter what you write, there’s a good chance that someone else may do the same thing better.

There’s only one thing another writer can’t do better than you.

And, it only happens to be the most important thing a writer can possess.


Your voice.

They can’t get your personality on their page. And, since a personal voice is the single most important component of writing and the single most important element leading to success, no matter how good the competition may be, you’ve got an edge on them by simply being you.”

Is that all I have to do? Is be me?

I thought of Bryce’s message. If I become God’s best version of me, than won’t my voice shine through my writing? Won’t my voice sing? I have to trust that it will because I can’t be anyone different than me, and I don’t want to be. I’m proud of who I am, even if someone else can write a better scene.

Thank you Les for giving me permission to let go of my obsession to find my voice, because in the process, I found my voice.

How have you found the song in your voice?

*Note: Here’s a link to The Climb lyrics in case you’re unfamiliar with the song:


  1. Just wanted to thank you for the shout-out of my book, Finding Your Voice, Michelle. I really appreciate it and am very gratified that it's helped you a bit in your own writer's journey. Hope you get a chance to read my second writer's how-to, Hooked, and if so, that it also helps some. Blue skies, Les Edgerton

    P.S. I'm your "neighbor" just down the road in Ft. Wayne.

  2. I have read both of Les's books and been blessed by them.

    Great post Michelle!