VOICE: ESSENTIAL TO THE CHORUS OF CREATION by Susanne Davis
I have been thinking a lot about writing voice and it seems I am not alone; there are many writers out there wondering, “Do I have a voice? Is it a strong one? Does it appeal to readers? How can I make it stronger, and more unique?” In a world crowded with media competing for attention, what does a writer have to do to get his or her voice heard?
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Excerpt From “Appointed Hour,” The Notre Dame Review, August 2016.
“Let those who are sent on a journey not permit the appointed hours to pass by….” Chapter 50, Rule of St. Benedict….”
The first time I was confronted with evil, I did not recognize it as evil.
I was living in Iowa when the first packet of clippings arrived, with my grandmother’s slanted scrawl across the envelope. Young women had started to go missing in our quiet corner of Connecticut. Our town of Asheville with a population of 2000 people had no traffic lights, no public transportation, only one general store, and one gas station across the street so that kids walked or peddled to the playground to smoke cigarettes away from any parents who might object.
I’ve been saving these, my grandmother’s note read. They’re all younger than you, but wasn’t sure if you knew the families. You best stay in Idaho, where it’s safe.
“Unseen Angels” published in Schuylkill Valley Journal.
The Schuylkill Valley Journal is a literature and arts publication based in Philadelphia, PA with 25 years of publishing experience. We love to publish non fiction, fiction, poetry, art, and photography, and always welcome new writers.
“A Season of High Skies” essay published in Mothers Always Write.
Excerpt from “The Object of Desire” published in Carve, shortlisted for Raymond Carver Award
After my mother died, I was left alone on our rundown farm with the wind moaning through the cracks, doors slamming in empty rooms, bills piling up on the kitchen table and nightmares of Troy that had faded for a while but now resurfaced making sleep so difficult I finally went to my doctor for some sleeping pills. She started asking one question after another until finally like a bloodhound she had flushed out what she called “the root of my problem.” She promised me some narcotic help only if I signed up for therapy.
Starting in April, every Wednesday night I drove to a little clapboard house in a neighborhood near Belaport’s hospital and sat in a cozy living room. That’s where I heard the stories of Cleo who was raped by her drug-addicted boyfriend and Donna who was a college freshman when a guy followed her home from her first night at a bar and raped her while she was passed out on her bunk. An armed intruder raped Dolores, a sixty-five year old widow, in her bed. Missy was barely thirteen when her minister’s son raped her.
This excerpt is part of a chapter from Gravity Hill. The chapter was featured at the 2006 Boston Fiction Festival and was published as “Under the Surface of Glass” in Boston Fiction Annual Review
Jordan found the accident site between the bridge and the bottom of Gravity Hill, the place where Clay had died. Almost every first date in town started or ended at Gravity Hill. Someone had erected three small white crosses at the top of the hill. Bunches of dead flowers lay in a heap. In one hand Jordan carried a warm beer and in the other a pack of peanuts. She was on her way home from work, and she wanted to sit for a while by the water and listen to it.
The Quanduck was shallow this time of year and the moon made a silver path across its surface. The peanut shells made no sound as they fell away from her hand and floated like tiny boats. She and Clay loved the river, all the kids did.
From down river a sudden light plunged out and shown on the water. Then there was a splash and a bobber surfaced and floated. Often there were fishermen at night shining trout. She wanted to be alone and at the same time it didn’t really matter. She broke more peanuts and flung the shells in the bushes out of courtesy to the fisherman.
Excerpt from “The Painted Lady,” published in Zone 3
The Painted Lady and I grew up together. Before I gave up on reading and the schools gave up on me, when I was desperate to hold a book like every other kid, I read comic books. At first, it was just a relief to have something with pictures on the page to help me figure out the story, but then I got into them. All that action. Good vs. evil. Heroes and heroines. The Painted Lady started as a comic book character, a beautiful girl but with the barest outline of humanity. A souped up version of Barbie, she was all the comic book heroines wrapped into one. In my old sketchpads, going back to when I was eight years old, she wore clothes like Robin Hood or Peter Pan and her most distinctive feature was her clenched fists, always swinging at the bad guys. Then we moved into what I call the Mouth Phase, when she spoke into a bubble, giving everyone lip. Man, she was pissed, at what in my drawings I labeled the AATW (asshole authorities of the world). That lasted for several years. When we hit the early teens though, the enemy disappeared and it was just her and me. Okay, I’ll admit we had the Sex Object Phase, with headlights the size of Jupiter, but that didn’t last long either, because by the time I was 17, she had matured too. There was a certain expression on her face. My mother had breast cancer by then. Every day, at least once a day, I drew my Painted Lady. Suffering showed in the lines I added to her face, lines that revealed her depth, her very essence.
Excerpt from “Our Lady of Sorrows” published in Feminist Studies Volume 32-2
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church sat on a large expanse of lawn one block south of Memorial Park in Omaha. It was early June and beds of annual flowers and perennial bushes were in full bloom, their brilliant colors reflected in the mist from the watering system. Jordana Colon was skipping school for the first time all year and she had been headed for the park until she remembered that the school called the house of every absent student and with her father home now that he was laid off, he was almost certain to come looking for her. Memorial Park had a carousel and a snack bar; it was where all the kids hung out if they weren’t going to the mall and her father was sure to look in both places. But he would never look in Our Lady of Sorrows.
Excerpt from “The Stray Dog,” St. Petersburg Review
Travis grabbed his camera and headed for the streets. Within the first few minutes, a dog crossed his path on Nevsky Prospekt. Where was the dog going? It crossed in front of him, tail curled over its back and he decided to follow it. The first thing the dog did was get off Nevsky. Tongue hung out the side of its mouth, mouth opened wide, laughing? Not looking up at the people, and people not looking at him. He trotted on and Travis jogged to keep up. Down one street, cross and up another. He could see the spire of the Admiralty and he knew that as long as he could see it he could find his way. They came to a large open-air market and carts piled with cherries and apples and small red strawberries. The dog trotted right through, nobody seeming to see him and Travis followed. The market was crowded and it took all his concentration to dodge the people and follow the dog. He looked up to the skyline trying to find the Admiralty’s spire. The horizon was a simple gray slab. Travis panicked. Where was he? He had no idea. And, to make matters worse, he could not speak more than a few words of Russian. Not enough to even read the signs.