By : Sally Valentine

August 19 2015

August 19, 2015 Voice


I’ve been spending as much time as possible outside this summer, and I’ve been paying more attention to the sounds of the birds, trying to distinguish each bird by its call. Some are easy. The shrill call of the cardinal matches its flaming red color and is unmistakable. Likewise the soft coos of the pigeon match its muted feathers and are equally unique. The tweets and twitters of the wrens and robins are harder to separate, at least for me, but I’m working on it.

Authors are always concerned about voice. I’m working on the 5th book in my kids’ series set in Rochester landmarks. I have to make sure that this book has the same voice as the previous four. For other work, I may use a different voice, but I think there’s a certain voice pattern that threads through all of my work.

My friend, Beth Hoad, is the Palmyra historian. She also writes for the local paper. Sometimes I will start reading an article without looking at the byline, and think to myself, this must have been written by Beth. I’m never wrong. Beth has a particular voice. That doesn’t mean that all of her writing is identical or simple. It just means that she has a particular turn of phrase or sentence structure or organization style or attitude. Most writers strive to get an identifiable voice. Beth has achieved that.

Back to the birds. This past Sunday my church held one of it’s few outdoor worship services. The day was perfect. There was shade in the pavilion, and the wind was perfect. Strong enough to move the air, but not so strong that it blew the organist’s music away. A day to appreciate God’s creation. Coincidentally, or not, one of the lessons was from Ephesians 5:18-19

… be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts.

As we sang to the tune of The Ash Grove, We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing; with glad adoration a song let us raise, I could hear a cardinal’s whistle off to my left and a woodpecker’s rat-a-tatting off to my right.

“All God’s children got a place in the choir,” indeed.


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