I started a writing class recently and last night we wrote about finding our voice and I decided to share here what I wrote for class. While preparing for the class I realized that using my voice, especially my written voice, was something I learned long ago…
I’ve learned many things from my mother. She is who I modeled my heart after, and she is where my drive to fix everyone in front of me comes from. But, I couldn’t learn her sweetness, and she is not who taught me to use my voice. My voice came from my dad. “You have to fight and scream no matter what they say, because if someone gets a hold of you they’re gonna kill you anyway, so you have to fight.” That fatherly advice came after a news story, sometime in elementary school, around the age of eight. It stuck with me my whole life. You have to fight.
Sometimes, like when the Adam Jepsons of the world hit you on the school bus, you have to fight with your hands, but sometimes you have to fight with your words. He taught me about fighting with words when I was a kid. Words he’d type out on his powder blue typwriter. Words that formed one clever op-ed article after another for the local paper. Words he’d throw like darts during family “debates” in his parents living room on weekend visits. Words can be mighty and forceful, and you have to be able to stratigically use them. My dad taught me that.
I write, in a lot of ways, because of my dad. I started with poetry and op-eds like he did, and I express my opinions with forceful conviction because of him. My thoughts on religion. My thoughts on love and guns and police and drugs and addiction. Even my thoughts on womanhood, personhood, sisterhood, I can speak of because of my dad. More often than not,, those thoughts are far different from his own.
Even though our opinions on most things deemed important in life are more varied than a box of unusuall crayons – Mine, an eclectic collection of purple and grey. His, stark shades of black and white – I have the voice to speak to those opinions because of my dad. Even though he is the person I no longer argue my opinions with, I use my voice because of my dad, and I know, deep down, his daughter’s voice makes him proud.