Looking For A Voice

I was listening to a podcast last night, a writer’s podcast produced by Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait. InΒ Allison‘s introduction she explained she was in the middle of judging a blogging competition, she mentioned something about looking for a voice. Not listening, looking. I guess if you’re reading, you are looking. Words somehow pass by your eyes and into your brain or maybe, if someone really speaks to you, your soul.

I’ve often wondered what it is that draws me to the blogs I read. Is it the writing? Or is it the story? Or does there need to be a combination of both? Does every blog have to have a story?

Recently one of my favourite writers wrote something which repelled me, I left the page disheartened. I’ve returned to keep reading but hesitantly. I turn the corners of paragraphs wincing, ready to be confronted. I hate how it makes me feel, that I’m not one of the cool kids, that I’m frigid or perhaps a bit of a prude. If you’ve been here for awhile you may have noticed I rarely swear on the page. It’s quite the opposite in real life, hey, I’m Australian – but I think it’s weak writing and if you’re doing it all the time, it loses its punch. If I was to throw a fuck in here, you’d stop to question its worth. See.

There are certain words which are vile, words which send a shiver down my spine, and I don’t want them to be overused because I want those words to keep their meaning. To keep their shiver. I want them to be vile and hideous so that when I’m reading a novel or watching a movie the word has the effect it’s meant to. The lowest of low. I don’t want to read those words in my news or opinion, I want to read language which is rich, language that I’m not yet equipped to use. I want to learn from those who write better than me.

To read a voice, to connect with someone on a level that is deeply personal. To let a writer make their way past your eyes, into your brain, and then deep in your soul.

I was in Canada, I’d just spent the last few hours absolutely mesmerised by the voice of Steven Page. I’d heard the Bare Naked Ladies before, danced in nightclubs, sang along with the radio, but I didn’t get it – I hadn’t seen them in concert. I hadn’t witnessed the relationship of Steven Page and Ed Robertson on stage. We were midway through the concert when Steven Page’s voice took on an operatic tone, no instruments were required, it was just him, his voice, and thousands of people who didn’t dare make a sound, just incase they ruined it. Until then I’d watched them rap, dance, and make jokes, I thought they were cute. I was charmed by their boyishness, but when Steven Page had his moment, everything changed, I just wanted to hear him sing like that again. I wanted the moment, the big booming moment. We were in traffic, driving home amongst the falling snowflakes when I texted back.

When Steven Page left BNL I, like many other fans, was devastated. Living in Canada it was almost impossible not to watch what appeared to be the train wreck of his drug related arrest, the end of his marriage, and him leaving the band. The reports weren’t kind to him and particularly his new girlfriend. If he was John, she was definitely Yoko. I’ve kept buying the music, I search on a six monthly basis for new Youtube clips, and my soul contracts each time I open the doors of our beach house and turn up Brian Wilson as loud as I can without the police arriving.

There’s a TEDX clip of Steven Page talking about song writing. For the first ten minutes of the clip he almost appears awkward, it makes no sense, a stage performer. Until he picks up his guitar, finds a beat, and hands over his voice. I love this clip, the explanation of how to write a song. The process. Stay with him, and listen to that voice at the 14 minute mark.

“It’s about looking for that thing that connects people.”

Maybe that’s good blogging. Hitting the big note, finding the words without being lazy.

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  1. I knew there was a reason I liked you…

  2. I saw some A-list comedians debate this once. Some (Jerry Seinfeld representing this view) had a no-swear rule (and a similar argument to you). Others swore all the time and said, well, to all the people who think it’s lazy and cheap – you try it. You try going up there and saying fuck and getting a laugh.

    And of course they didn’t convince Seinfeld to change his ways but at the same time they had a fair point. The thing is, anything awesome enough can make its own rules. The real sin isn’t swearing or not swearing but not being awesome.

    For the record, I don’t swear on my blog, either. Also, BNL. Man! Thanks.

  3. Francesca WritesHere says

    I know what you mean. I use them in real life more than I do on the blog, but even then, not so much.
    Sometimes I read blogs with an idea of what I want the voice to be, but on occasion a post won’t live up to my expectation. But also, we can change our voice from time to time. I think you’ve hit and held the note, Kirsty. That’s why I keep coming back to your blog πŸ™‚

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