Writer without a voice

Frog in throat.. no voice! Since last Tuesday, I’ve had no voice. Literally. I was in the middle of a meeting (by phone) with a client at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning when my voice started getting softer and higher pitched until it was completely gone.

It was like a frog jumped in my throat and squatted there, quite comfortable in the new digs, and refused to budge.

I managed to whisper to end that phone call and figured my voice would return soon. I forced coughs to clear my throat, I gargled salt water. (And promptly gagged from the salt water.) I resorted to snapping, clapping and whistling to get the kids’ attention. They delighted in ignoring me or claiming that they thought I was calling the dog (or the other sibling). It was a LONG week. My voice was on vacation for six days. My son had to answer all my calls and I had to let voice mail pick up, take the message and use email to communicate with my clients — and IM… lots of IM.

My voice returned in a gravelly “old woman who smokes” kind of way during the latter portion of yesterday. Before then, my family affectionately called me “squeaky” because other than whispering, the occasional ill-placed (and unexpected) squeak was all I could muster.

Today, I sound almost normal — but like I have a terrible cold. I don’t have a cold. I feel fine. I’ve FELT fine… except for the lack of voice.

Now, as a writer, that shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve lost my voice before — even several times in the last year. But that usually only lasted a day or two. And, it was when I was really stressed out, worn down and sick. It wasn’t like now.

So I figure I can cancel my phone-based meetings for a day or so and continue with my projects. I have an unusually large number of writing projects right now, so it should be fine, right?


I know I’ve always edited my work by reading aloud. It helps me to catch typos and problems that I don’t “see” when I speed along reading silently to myself. It helps me to determine the rhythm and flow of my work. Making it sound good makes it look good. It makes it better.

So, here I am writing without a voice. And I find that I do alot more writing — not just editing — with my voice than I ever imagined. When I hit a tough spot I read it aloud. When something isn’t working, I say it out loud and the answer comes to me, I immediately know how to fix it. It’s become such a habit over the years, I’ve never noticed how essential my physical voice is to my creative one.

This weekend was my maternal grandmother’s 85th birthday celebration. I was to write a tribute. I was also supposed to read said tribute at her honorary tea party. I spent many hours last week wrestling viciously with the tribute itself, trying to force it into existence. It was REALLY hard without a voice. I did get it finished, finally, but my mother had to read it in my stead.

Odd, isn’t it… that a writer “finding” a voice is an accomplishment? Now I know why. And I’ve discovered that THIS writer losing hers — is a catastrophe! It makes life so much harder.

(note: Frog photo courtesy of arebella.)