Last night, I discovered a very important truth about voice: if you practice using it, you’ll be ready to use it when it counts.
I was biking home from class in the dusky light just after sunset and almost got hit by a speeding 4 x 4. I knew the light made me harder to see, so I was (thankfully) paying close attention as I crossed 28th, the busy street that borders campus on one side. It’s one of those four lane plus turning lane roads, but the intersection is a little more complicated because there’s an access road that parallels 28th with it’s own traffic signal only a sidewalk’s width from the main signal. This means that cars traveling toward me on the road have to get through two traffic signals instead of just one.
Theoretically, since this is a short signal, they might speed to try to make the turn onto 28th. Where, after waiting dutifully for my walk signal and waiting for the rest of turning traffic to clear, I was trying to cross.
What does this have to do with voice? Well, obviously, I didn’t die or even get hurt…and I believe that was only because I was “practicing” using my voice as I biked, singing a tricky little tune from the Pirates of Penzance. With voice in use, it was an automatic shift to yelling “HEY!!!” at the top of my lungs at precisely the right moment. The driver heard me and swerved; and I’m here today, musing about voice.
The incident provided me with multiple valued reminders–besides the obvious ones about helmets and bicycle safety. When I’m using my voice–when I’m in practice–then I’m prepared to use it when it matters.
Maybe not everthing I pen will be beautiful, witty, or marketable–but it all has value, because it hones my voice for those times I really need it.