Finding Paul’s voice

question mark on silhouetteI faithfully followed my time management plan last week, and I was clicking along:

    • Paid work – check
    • Volunteer commitments – check
    • Daily exercise, chores, reading for pleasure and plenty of sleep – check, check, check and check.

But I wasn’t feeling good about it. On nearly every calendar page, dark lines crossed through all items but one. Write.

It was scheduled; I had allotted time. As the week – and opportunities – slipped by, it became increasingly difficult to rationalize putting it off. By Wednesday, I had begun glancing only briefly at the day’s to-do list, taking in disjointed slivers of the page. As the weekend loomed, the word seemed to grow bigger and more accusatory, as if trying to edge into my peripheral vision and sear its message into my brain: WRITE!

I was puzzled why I faithfully crossed off everything else on my list, yet averted my eyes and laid down my pen when it came to “Write.” I didn’t have writer’s block; I knew where the story was going. Then, last night, it came to me. I can’t seem to find my voice. Paul’s voice, to be precise.

I had written pages of back story about Paul. His childhood, school and military experiences, his view of the world. But I had written it as an observer, not from Paul’s perspective. Getting inside a character’s head is what makes him or her live. It’s what happened to me with Father Francis. I never had intended for him to have as large a role as he will have, but as I got to know him, know he thinks, how he reacts and behaves, he took on a life of his own. Paul hadn’t done that yet for me.

Now that I’ve identified the problem, I feel liberated. I know Paul’s history and his temperament. Knowing that, I can re-approach the situation that stymied me and work through his thought process. I can be Paul. He will find his voice.

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