Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ah yes, my odd voice

In the beginning, I could sing. No, really, I mean it. Not just carrying a tune, but being good enough to be in my schools "special chorus," standing on a stage in a special navy blazer and little white skirt. I had the same high, sweet soprano my mother and sister did, and then I hit sixteen and rebellion took over. I didn't want to be like either of them, not in sound or looks or desires. I wanted to be something different. Something more dramatic.

I changed my name from Carolyn to Caroline.
I changed the way I looked and threw out the bright yellows for black and deep, muddy colors.
I grew my hair and stopped straightening the curls and wore complicated earrings and short velvet skirts.
And one day, in the midst of all this metamorphosing, at seventeen, my voice changed all on its own.

I couldn't carry a tune anymore, though I still liked to sing. My voice became hoarse and husky--so much so that my doctor insisted I go to a specialist because sudden hoarseness could mean real, physical trouble. The doctor I saw snaked a tube down my throat and made me sing as he did it. Then he drew the tube out and shrugged. "Your vocal chords don't touch," he told me. "You can fix that by taking singing lessons." Then he grinned at me. "But why would you want to?"

Ah yes. That's the way I feel. I've gotten used to people asking, "Do you have a cold?" (No, I always sounds like this, except when I have a cold and then I sound worse.) Or "Are you doing that deliberately?" (Nope. Well, maybe.)

One of the things a novelist has to do is self-promote. I know, I know. It's awkward sometimes, and being self-deprecating, I sometimes shy away from that "Look at me! Look at me!" quality that you have to have. I don't want to be seen as pushy or bragging or obnoxious.

I want people to read my work. I ache for them to, actually, so with that--and my strange voice in mind-- I offer you an opportunity to hear my voice. I am talking about my last novel, Girls inTrouble, and my new novel coming up, Pictures of You, on David Wilk's fantastic writerscast.


Elspeth Futcher said...

I used to sing as well; in the school choir in my tartan kilt, white shirt, red tie, and blazer.

I think you have a lovely speaking voice, Caroline. More importantly, I think you express yourself intelligently and wittily. Be proud. I would be if I were you.


Clea Simon said...

I cannot imagine you in a blazer or with straightened hair!

I hope you still sing for your own pleasure - in the shower, wherever - in your own lovely voice. Your whole story could be read as a metaphor for finding your true voice. I find it - and you - inspirational!