There was a time when I was very invested in theatre, and to that end I took an acting class in college. One exercise we did each week was a form of prolonged breath-holding, intended to bring your voice down (or up, I suppose) to its natural level – evidently a lot of people unconsciously modulate their speaking voices, but if you hold your breath for longer and longer periods of time (bonus: increased lung capacity) you’ll…I’m not quite sure. Relax your diaphragm, maybe? Mostly I remember that my friends and I turned this into a breath-holding challenge, and several of us almost passed out. College! Where we learn to excel and be our best selves.
I was thinking about that acting exercise because lately I’ve caught myself speaking in a higher, breathier voice than usual. Not all the time, but occasionally, and in particular when I want to sound disarming or affectionate. I’m often accused of speaking too softly to be heard (annoying, because 1. I am never aware of it, 2. correcting the problem always feels to me like it involves shouting, and 3. I’ve never had an issue projecting in teacherly or theatrical situations, so why is dinner in a restaurant so difficult?), and I wonder if this is breathiness is a part of it.
I do not think of myself as a particularly soft or accommodating person – I try to be nice, but not a pushover – so where does this inclination come from? Do I have an inner baby doll, just begging to get out? (Please, banish the disturbing pregnancy images now.) Do I have an inner caveman, that I’m trying to suppress? It is a mystery.
All I really want is to be a five-year-old girl riding an ostrich, neither doll nor primordial human. I suppose one thing I could do to move closer to that goal is to stop paying so much attention to the timbre of my voice. Worrying about it probably doesn’t help much.
Well, that has been your random view into my anxieties. Now, I will boast: I found out yesterday that my story “The Eternal Youth of Everyone Else” was recognized as a Notable Story by the storySouth Million Writers Award. I’m quite pleased! Nay, delighted! At this point, all the Notable stories undergo further judging, and if my story moves on in the process I’ll let you know, so you can vote for it. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who nominated me (including the marvelous Carve Magazine, one of the most supportive journals there is)!
With that, I think I’ll eat some reward ice cream.