Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Going batty over 'voice' by Jane Clamp

It was a long time ago, but I once watched a fascinating documentary about bats and their ability to re-connect with their young when returning from a swoop around the night skies in search of an insect supper. Despite the thousands upon thousands of bats in the cave, the mothers found their own youngsters because of the unique sound they made. In order to establish the facts, I did a quick internet search – almost too quick, it seemed, since I misread this skill as e-chocolate. I was about to get very excited and consider placing an immediate order when I looked again. Not chocolate at all, but ‘echolocate’ – using sound and its echoes to determine the direction and distance of objects including their batlets.

When I married Mr C, we chose as one of our songs ‘Indescribable’ by Chris Tomlin. The stand-out line for me is: Every creature unique in the song that it sings. I remind myself of this whenever I feel lost in a crowd, or overlooked. God hears my cry, knows it’s me calling, and knows where to find me. But, there’s more to this truth than that. As writers, we hear about the need to develop our own ‘voice,’ to write in a style that both reflects and informs who we are as individuals. Whilst we may read widely and have aspirations of becoming the next Agatha Christie or whoever else floats our boat, the simple fact is we can only really be ourselves. Others can serve as inspiration and motivation but our writing flows best when it is in our unique voice.

ACW is blessed with an extraordinary range of writers. We have preachers and novelists, essayists and apologists; bloggers, journallers – and journalists. There are devotional writers, romantic authors, the list goes on and on. And when you explore a few more steps into those genres, you find the diversity continues. Ages, personalities, life circumstances – all are represented. All of us calling with our unique “song” and none of us unheard by our heavenly Father who adores us all with equal passion.

The temptation to emulate will always be there. The pull towards writing for a market that might pay us, winning out against the risk of following our hearts and expressing what has already begun deep down in it. Others may criticise our voice. We may give ourselves a hard time over it, too. But it’s the only one we’ve got. Will you join me in asking God for more courage to be ourselves, to write what only we can write? 

Jane is the author of Too Soon (SPCK) and Groups' Coordinator for ACW. Freshly unencumbered from the day job, she intends to spend much more of her time writing.