When your voice finds you, it doesn’t matter how you express it: your signature’s all over it.
I write this because, after seeing The Soloist, a movie about a Los Angeles-based writer who finds a homeless cellist / prodigy and a must-watch for any writer I know, I’ve given tons of thought about where to take the writing “thing.” Not to spoil the movie (as it is a biopic of sorts), we have the contemplative Steve Lopez, a man committed to a beautiful but dispassionate view of the world and a raw and soulful writing style that garners him success, fans, and everything except a positive relationship. On the other hand, we have Nathaniel Ayers, who also has an excellent talent with his violin (and later on, we find out, he started with the cello).
Superficially different from the writer, but distinctly similar in that they’re both looking to get out a message carried deep within them, and trying to battle themselves just for the chance to reach that higher ground. After the movie ended, I found myself inspired and in the throws of the same feeling that seems to connect all writers / poets / musicians / artists as a whole. We draw upon some force within us and draw out the very best of us to express some message or say something truly inspiring. We go to great lengths within our person to make some of our greatest pieces happen.
Personally, I know some of my best pieces came after 2-3-4-5 hours of reading around and looking at research, and reaching into the bottomless pit of my mind to clean thoughts out. Yeah, it got that deep at times. I look back at the revelatory nature of them, and wonder whether others can understand the madness it takes to be that kind of writer, but people’s loyalty to the work indicates a more positive reaction. If I can even elicit a fraction of the care I put into my most prized work, I’ve done my job.
And that’s where the musician and the writer really find their common ground. We can concern ourselves less with the works that garner our mainstream / commercial successes and focus on the works that influence the conversations we have, then we’re truly artists in that respect. Whereas conversation is the bridge from one to one or even one to some, art is the bridge between the one and the many.
Whether you’re writing or you’re playing, your voice carries.
Jose, who wonders how you express your voice …