Sunday, July 29, 2012

Listening to Different Voices

The voice of the guitar rang through the upland meadow nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, singing blue grass to the crowd. Old and new melodies of the hills, bolstered by the tempo of the band's drum, an old suitcase producing mellow tones, drifted over the fields.

Listening to the mountain music in the evening, hearing soft, southern voices in the day, watching the mist rise silently from many layers of mountain ridges in the morning, laughing as excited children call as they walked across the Swinging Bridge a mile high at Grandfather Mt., and feeling the rhythm of a slower country life, a writer's ear and mind tingle. What enrichment to consider a different accent, cadence, rhythm, inflection, and pace in the language we might consider for our characters' dialogue, voice and setting.

A bonus of summer travel plans is capturing glimpses of these prizes. Some of our members are vacationing in locales somewhat removed from our Middle Atlantic base - Maine where ones hears a more clipped New England accent of Down East, the English of London and the lilt of Ireland, more North Carolina with an eastern coast tone, and the sounds of Seattle and the North West.

What great additions for our use of language - some of which we shall type in subconsciously, and some we will note down on first hearing and use enthusiastically.

In summer, listening to different voices of different places - country music in the meadow or children calling across a mountain top, the strange accent of our own language from a distant shore - enriches our writing life.


  1. After I'm in Maine for a while, I can hear my accent change - I greet people with a more clipped version of "Hi" and often I slip into the drawn out version of "there," making it almost two syllables.

  2. What a great point! Travel, and just immersing ourselves in somewhere different, is great for so many reasons--but one of the best may be the energy and inspiration it can give our writing, I think!

  3. So true Eileen. The voices here in London, with the Olympics on, are so stimulating and full of variation, it's overwhelming. Trying to identify and capture in writing the global nuances is a wonderful challenge.