Writers of all genres are always encouraged to find their own voice. This is the best way to stand out from the pack, the best way to get recognized. It is odd to look for something that is never further from us than our own lips, and yet search for it we must. We search for it through all the cobwebs of old voices clouding our view; we search for it among all the paths we’ve been advised to follow, and the paths we’ve watched others follow to such success. We search and search, pulling within ourselves for a necessary solitude, away from advice, away from custom, away from the tribe – away from even family if necessary. As soon as we begin this search we recognize it as the most important we will ever take.

But it can feel so lonely sometimes. You don’t embark on this search only to keep what you find to yourself. All this pulling away can feel like rejection; all this solitude can feel like hiding. It is very tempting to stop the search. It is very tempting in the confusion of looking for something you know you’ve always had to hurl yourself into the current of opinion, of trends, of rules, to give yourself over to the great Family of Man and let it take you where you it will. Let the mirror of others tell you who you are.

Strange, then, that as soon as you stop your search you feel lonelier than before you began it. You won’t recognize this loneliness at first because it will be so noisy where you are. The noisier the company the shorter you will want to keep it. And so you seek quieter company, and then quieter still, until you find yourself in silence once again.

And once returned to this silence you may be surprised to find you never felt less alone in your life. Now you find that the world from which you had to withdraw so that you might hear what you most wanted to say is listening closely. So closely, that you can see their eyes clearly for the first time. They are looking too, and in your own search for recognition you have found them.

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