Sunday, October 4, 2009

Losing Your Voice

We've all had bad colds before. I'm not talking about your garden variety cough to break up a monotonous conversation, but those big whooping coughs, jarring wheezes, and loud sneezes that thrust your body backward ten feet.

You know…the ones that force everyone at your friend's dinner party to give you some room.

Hands down, the worst colds I've experienced are those that rob me of my voice. Usually, it's because I slept with my window cracked, or chanced it with a thin jacket before a looming downpour, or decided to go house shirt and hoop shorts while pulling garbage to the curb in the dead of winter. Getting a "voice cold" feels like a spider web is caught in my throat, refusing to come out no matter how forcefully I try to cough the sucker into my hankie.

By the way, hope you're not eating while reading this.

For the past few weeks, I've been fighting a moderately bad voice cold. No, not physically struggling, but fighting to keep my writing free from the lingering vice of cliché.

I've spent many an hour looking at my notebook, trying to think of the next clever pun or idiomatic expression to jar your mind, simply wishing to appease my reader hoping to find significance in the lines of my articles. But I've torn up more pages than I can remember in my career. No, that's no good. Too Simmons-y. Too Till-Show-esque. Too Leitchian. My pages, now crumpled in my hands seemed to speak of me as more of an inlier than an outlier.

Every writer says the same things, so it must be true. In order to be a great writer, you've first got to be a great reader. If you read those persons you find humorous, enlightening, encouraging, even disparaging…you'll eventually combine those great characteristics in your own work and become a writer of ill-repute. Blah, blah, blah.

But with so many writers, so many blogs, so many voices filling the could I find my own?

That's where I was frozen for the past five weeks, since the King/X hoops collaboration between Tillman and myself, before my job began to burn my critical hours and show me the corrupt nature of the game. People swear they're trying to be world changers…but that dream is quickly deferred by the proposition of a cushy life with sweater vests and pocket squares.

But, I couldn't sit still. I had to write. First, came a word…then a phrase, a sentence, and soon a paragraph. Quickly, I lifted my eyes from the blinking cursor and saw lines and lines of thoughts, dashed across the once blank slate of a Microsoft page, telling me something that I'd already begun to notice while typing.

Michael, you have a voice. Because I said you do. And I love hearing your voice.

So, you…person who blew the dust off your thesaurus to interpret my sayings, who don't know why they've embarked on this journey called life, who are wondering why I haven't made a Lamar Odom/Khloe Kardashian one-month marriage joke yet, who are looking for purpose in a bleak world that much rather rob you of one and strike you with the ole whooping cough.

You matter. Because Christ says you matter.

Your life, your mind, your voicecounts.

Michael Benjamin, II

1 comment:

  1. Refreshing note. I liked the deviation from the usual sports focus to address the big picture of self expression. As a reader who doesn't consider himself a writer, it is almost sadistically reassuring to know that the great writers of our generation also battle with voicing their thoughts.

    But for real, no Lamar Kardashian jokes?