Day 55 – Voice

During my childhood, my mother wrote many letters and received many letters in return. Most of them came from old friends back in Minnesota, many of whom lived out on farms in rural areas. I don't know what those letters contained. I never read them nor were they read to me. Except one. It was from a farmer's wife, a Mennonite who always wore long prairie skirts and never cut her hair which she kept twisted on the top of her head in a loose bun. She and her husband kept horses on their small working farm. The letter my mother read to me was about one of those horses in particular. Polly, a fat, little, dapple grey I used to ride bareback through their pastures. Polly had found a loose board in the fence and wiggled through during the night. She'd eaten through half the garden before they found her the next morning. My mother read it chuckling. It was funny, but that isn't why I remember that letter. I remember it because it taught me how to find my voice. As my mother read, I could hear the Mennonite woman speaking. Her words sounded like her own even though my mother spoke them. She wrote the way she talked. It was shocking. I didn't know you were allowed to do that. Then it dawned on me that maybe I could write the way I talked too. Writing didn't have to be formal. Complete sentences were not required. Periods? Punctuation? You could throw those out too if you wanted. It was scandalous. 

Writing got a lot easier after that, but it still took me years to figure out what I had to say and to say it without apology.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. - Oscar Wilde

Prompt:  Write about a realization. 


  1. Kate Joly
    Feb 26, 2014

    My mom read aloud to us a lot as a child, and she had a LOVELY reading voice, beautiful cadence. When I started reading out loud to my son Zane, I found myself imitating it unconsciously, and I loved that too, cuz it made me think of her at her best. But somewhere along the way, it started just sounding like me. What I don’t know is whether I still read like her, I’m just used to it now, or if my voice changed into my own. Almost certainly somewhere in between. But I miss hearing her voice in mine.

    And that is the BEST Oscar Wilde quote!

    • Zezelia
      Mar 1, 2014

      Reading aloud is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. Now I know where Zane gets that imagination! I miss his ant farm videos btw.

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