I have a “writing voice” in my head.
Most days, she is stifled. Her interest is random and unpredictable. Sometimes, she’ll pop up in paragraph three, awakened from a slumber of monotonous copy by the idea that if I only said it just like this, it might sound a little like the ocean.
Like all “writers,” I wish I wrote more. Every once in a while I commit to a new journal, preserving about a month’s worth of myself then never writing in it again. I have dozens of these neglected books in my room, disguised as centerpieces and thoughtless clutter, their insides secretly exposing whatever side of myself I felt like projecting when I started them.
I don’t enjoy writing for criticism. I’ll graduate with a j-school degree but the workshop classes annoy me. Journalism taught me how to write with purpose, but the words I turn in never really feel like me. A blog always seemed absurdly vulnerable and too easily teased, but real life has taught me that it is a marketable asset. “Writing” is one of my endorsed LinkedIn skills.
At work, I blog weekly. I feel incredibly satisfied when my boss and I get a sentence just right. I meticulously arrange Instagram photos and spend hours on Canva and Photoshop creating an image that perfectly reflects what I want to say. I love my job and I also get tired of it. I become lazy with links. I skip steps that I know would make my work more effective. I leave the SEO meter yellow.
Then, almost out of nowhere, my girl shows up.
She catches the tail end of a comma splice and is repulsed and offended at my audacity.
She refocuses me.
Sometimes, she appears in the middle of an old song on a long drive. I’m trying to merge onto I4 and she’s pirouetting over some forgotten concept, shouting, “Well, have you thought about it like this?”
In those moments, I wonder if maybe I could be an artist.
These thoughts are almost immediately followed by, “Well, I probably wouldn’t make any money.”
And I’m pretty good at the other stuff, too.
So, for now, I’m cool with our complicated friendship. We have learned to coexist. We like the same movies and always the same boys. She comes around when I’m sad. We spend a lot of time together then — she always has a great deal to say. When the sun comes out, she fades into the background again.
But, every once in a while, when I’m home alone on the couch on hour five of a Netflix binge, or right in the middle of an otherwise normal conversation, I am overwhelmed with her shrieking in my head:
“You could write about that!”