Writer’s Voice — Why It Matters
Lyndsay Knowles

Be what you are.

A very long time ago, before the divorce, before losing my kids, before the last twenty-odd moves and untenable residences and like three states ago, before I ever learned the word “epiphany”or had heard it and thought it was some Catholic thing (which I distinctly am not), those four words, were my life’s first real epiphany.

Be. What. You. Are.

Sister, there is revolution in those four words. Defiance, conflict, near-certain calamity, and probable disapproval, the absolute kind, from all quarters. Things people will do to you and call it good, take from you and call it fair, judge of you and call it what you had coming.

That epiphany of four words, may be the most costly thing that has ever happened to me.

Actually, no it wasn’t. Deciding to live by them was.

No, not even that. Deciding first to heed them, then not regret it, then learn to live with the cost, then learn to count my blessings with what it bought me, even while missing and grieving everything and everyone all that deciding had cost me. A long list, I assure you.

But had I not decided those things, not chosen to be what I am and instead be what was being demanded and expected of me, I would have been lost long ago. A far more costly proposition, and one which makes the very high cost of the road I chose instead, seem a fair bargain indeed.

People keep asking me why I only write replies lately and not OPs any more. You write so well, they say, how about something original, they implore.

And here, in four words you blow all the ways I have been trying to say what I mean to say, to everyone, right out of the water. Because that was all any of it ever meant: be what you are.

The rest, I suppose, is me trying to keep a writer’s voice, in voice, so to speak, by commenting every way I can think of on the chaos and stupidity and hollowness and perpetual conflict which ensue, from what looks to me like a whole lot of folks hell-bent on doing everything but be what they are, by any means available and consequences be damned, kinda like the way a person might put off throwing up for as long as possible out of sheer pride, fear and revulsion combined, even when they know they’ll feel a whole lot better to just get it over with.

Yes, deciding to be what you are, like throwing up, first makes you quite literally sick to your stomach.

Then you start to feel, better.

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