Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“Finding Your Voice,” by Selena Wolff

I met Selena Wolff when she left a long, insightful comment on my Creative Catalyst column for Telling Her Stories. Her newest blog is Solitary Words. When I asked her the origin of the beautiful name, "Selena," she said "Selena is from Spain; mine comes from Selene, goddess of the moon!" Selena lives in NW Ohio where she focuses on her writing career.

Selena stalks plots with her vivid imagination She says that she "sometimes have to work at narrowing down ideas to a single thread." She's the exact right person to share her village wisdom about how to find your voice.

Welcome, Selena!


by Selena Wolff

I used to write a lot of fiction, but I'm finding that journal/memoir writing is closer to my heart. That's where my true writing voice is. I'm currently working on a project using that venue.

Where do you hear the truth? In what part of your day do words resonate to that deep place within you and tell you that This is what I am?

With pen in hand, in front of the keyboard, or easel or sewing machine, or whatever your medium of expression is, finding that truth is finding your own voice. I call it the 'zone'. When I am in the zone, amazing things happen.

I am a writer, but I have many means of expression. I make quilts, I doodle with a pencil and the garden is my zen zone. In each of those places there is a sweet spot for me. My zone is a frame of mind that rises above the clock and takes me to another realm that releases the binds that constrict me to everyday life and takes me to the infinite well of inspiration.

I call it the Hedge, others call it Heaven. No matter what you name it, that is the place of truth. The expression of truth is true Art.

Finding the pathway to your true voice is a tricky road and the tricky part is making it accessible at will. I find that when the house is quiet in early morning, before the dog wants to go out, or the family is still sleeping, it is much easier to be able to listen with my heart.

Distractions, usually necessary ones, draw us into the everyday consciousness that is important to make our world a place we want to live. Everyone has many voices, or hats, that we wear to help create our lives. Secretary, factory worker, mother, father, construction, cook....all are layers of experience to draw on. They support my creativity.

Whatever the demands of my daily time, those demands do not control me. They support the zone. I use them to fuel the Hedge, because I am not my actions, my actions are part of me. I use every opportunity offered me by life as a tool to support my truth.

There were many times that my work, my job, drew me away from staying connected to the Hedge. The desire for money, prestige, or perceived security has taken my attention away from my own inner truth.

A good question was asked once. Have you ever given up any of those things to focus on your creative expression? It's a difficult thing in these times of economic hardship and our war torn planet to make that kind of decision. But it was one that I had to do. I found myself lost in the propaganda of how to succeed. Someone else's judgment of what I should be doing. I spent years making a good living, giving my whole life to the 'job'. And in the process, I found less and less time to listen to my zone.

My strongest desire throughout all of that was to be a writer; to make my living being a writer. But in the process of trying to find a way to do that, I got distracted. The dream became faded, like the sepia toned photos that rest in an old album, still important but tucked away, only to be viewed on rare occasions.

As my children grew, left home, and brought grandchildren back to me, I began to hear those dreams again. What was I doing to further my own dream? Money wasn't fulfilling them, and titles held no meaning in the light of who I really was. So I took the plunge, gave up 60k a year to work in a greenhouse. My zen zone, remember? A definite change of lifestyle, but the payoff was so worth it.

So. I've pulled out the old album, dusted off the dreams and found my true voice, again. To my surprise I found that the in-between years have deepened my understanding of who I am. I now draw on those experiences not because they drew me away from what I truly am, but because they are now a part of my own voice. When I am looking for inspiration, I pull out memories and rifle through them and meditate on them. And I slip into the zone.

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10 Responses »

  1. Janet:

    You are such a magnet for wonderful contributors like Selena.

    Selena expresses herself beautifully and consequently with truth. She heard her dharma calling over the years, and didn't dismiss it in favor of living someone else's life—which is at the heart of fulfillment.

    Here's an apt quote that surfs off of Selena's thoughts from my book, An Artist Empowered:

    It is a difficult and demanding thing to find out who you are—your unique voice—in a vast sea of social conditioning where the dominant culture, to stay afloat and in charge, demands more cogs than unique parts, which have no apparent use in powering or steering the machinery, the ship of state.

    Our distinctness as artists is our contribution to the collective magic that is life on Earth. If you aren’t aware of your own self and the responsibility you have for making life work, you risk getting soul wrecked—and, in the end, washing up on the shore of despair alongside the flotsam and jetsam of the disingenuous—those artists who were called but chose not to risk, not to go.

    When someone once told me that I am a taskmaster, I replied: “What then would you like me to be?”

    What you perceive as tough is appropriate action. No thing of value comes easy. You must be resolute to persevere. You must be prepared to meet your public without, as my mother liked to say, folding up like a cheap accordion when things don’t go your way.

    As Jonathan Swift observed: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

  2. Eden,

    Thanks for responding to Selena's beautiful post. Your book "An Artist Empowered" contains so much wisdom. I'm excited to see it coming out as an e-book. Let us know your progress.


  3. Janet:

    I'm always pleased to read how someone came to their own conclusions, not the designs of others.

    Yes. The eBook version of An Artist Empowered is now available from: Amazon (Kindle), (Adobe Digital Editions), and Barnes & Noble (Nook); for some reason, getting the eBook into the iBookstore for the iPad is a cumbersome and lengthy process.

    I trust Selena's words will turn kindling into an eternal flame.


  4. Eden,
    Thank you for your kind words.

    "She heard her dharma calling over the years, and didn't dismiss it in favor of living someone else's life—which is at the heart of fulfillment."

    My own dharma rang like a bell, and the louder it got the less I could ignore it. I was never any good at dancing to someone else s drum, and following my own dream is definitely fulfilling and worth the effort. Janet has been a wonderful inspiration and I'm looking forward to reading your book.


  5. Woo hoo! I KNOW about the zone. I'm "zoned" out much of the time, always creating something. it's therapeutic!

  6. Funny. "Zoned out" takes on a new meaning. --Janet

  7. Selena thanks for directing me to this site. I love it. This is a great interview. I learned so much about you Selena. However, it also leaves me with many questions. In the future I would like to have an interview week on my blog. May I interview you?

  8. Haley, I'd love to! and yes, Janet's site is wonderfully unique. She truly creates a Village.


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