By Kristin A. Meekhof
When a well- known author gave me the opportunity to guest blog on her website, I did a happy dance. I had to reread the email several times to take it all in. At the same time, I was a ball of nerves. I actually felt a knot in my stomach. I worked countless hours on this blog entry, and even confided in a friend, who is an editor, that I was filled with angst. As a professional editor, this dear friend offered to review my work. I didn’t hesitate to accept this generous gesture. I felt that a second set of professional editorial eyes was just what I needed.
After exchanging a few emails with my friend, I felt confident that I had the polished and perfect article ready for submission. My friend’s editorial remarks and insights were nothing short of genius. Now, my sentences were crisp and alive. Moreover, I felt that I captured the true essence of this blog assignment. I submitted my work, and waited, and waited. No word. Finally, I got a generic email back stating that I was rejected. The words stood out like a black eye. My ego was bruised and my self- esteem tanked. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I’ve been published numerous times by a national well- respected publication and now, this- rejection! In a panic, I contacted my friend. She reassured me that revisions and edits are part of the game. She kept repeating “No worries”, in a calm tone. Honestly, I was worried. I asked the author’s assistant for feedback as to why I received the rejection. No response. I resubmitted a revised version, and I was rejected- again.
I set aside the article for a day, and went back to reread what I wrote. I realized that the writing did not sound like me. I had lost my voice. I was intimidated by this “big” author. Wanting to impress others, I tried to write for them instead of myself. In the past, my writing voice has served me well. After all, it is what earned me this author’s blog invitation. After some hours of rumination, I called my trusted aunt and explained the situation. With a very maternal voice, she said, “Listen very carefully to the (writing) voice inside you.”
I had compromised my writing voice in exchange for something that I thought guaranteed sophistication. When I set aside my own style in favor of a voice that I assumed was fancy and fabulous, I rejected my own voice. A voice that is strong, that I’ve relied on, not only to obtain other writing assignments, but a voice that has guided me through some very difficult decisions.
I think we all have our own inner voice that guides and teaches us. For some of us, that voice is strong and courageous. For others, the voice is hesitant and passive. I’m not suggesting that we have all the answers. Of course, there are times when we can’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, there are times when obtaining outside professional help is necessary. What I am speaking to is listening to that voice within you. Some call this voice, “a gut feeling” or “intuition”. Whatever you may call it, listen. Listen to its whispers, to its laughter, and to its tears. These are the sounds and songs of the heart. This is what will connect you with the goodness in others, and what will bring out your own truth. Be brave. Listen.
My intent is to listen to my own voice and to the songs and whispers of my heart.
Brief Bio- Kristin Meekhof is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing has appeared in Author online magazine, Ecclesio, and the University of Michigan Cancer Website blog. She is currently working on her upcoming book– Just Widowed, and can be reached at www.kristinmeekhof.com