Your unique voice comes from the well of memory, a lifetime of feelings and experiences accumulated over a lifetime. Gems of experience forged deep in the subconscious, are small cocoons of thought wrapped in sensory data and bound by emotion, unknown and unremembered. Then a chance encounter out of the blue—a face in the park, the scent of rosemary, a carnelian shade of red—evokes a past event, half remembered that compels you. Your mind is full of these gems.
The day you fell into the neighbor’s pool at three feet, too short to keep your head above water. You can’t find a hand hold. Your body drifts down to the deepest end. You are drawn toward the company in the blue grotto calling for you to come. You want to but are now aware of the dark shadow overhead, the large hand grasping your slight shoulder, and swooping you onto the cold concrete deck.
At sixteen, you try to write about a moment of fear. But when you call up the memory you find there is no fear in the moment of the seven-year-old. Old remembrances of fear have become curiosity. The bottom of the pool offers comfort. You are curious about those people. Do you know them? You see the grotto as a blue gate into something else. You try to move toward the center of joy. But a dark shadow falls over the pool, and a hand swoops in grabbing your swimsuit. Screaming and shouting on the deck means big trouble will be added to the litany of wrongs you have committed against your family. Through the telescope of time, details are now cast on memory shaping it with evidence of outcomes, with broken rules and probable misfortunes.
In another decade the memory is evoked again in the incongruous setting of a hotel restaurant in Southern California, which is decorated in the manner of a Tuscan villa. I am eating a bowl of pasta and white beans in a natty business suit. Across the lobby, a crowd of well-heeled personas from the art world, perhaps artists and critics and buyers, donned in the colorful patterns of African frocks and suits, topped with fanciful headdresses. They are milling around large paintings of African landscapes and fanciful humans and animals filling fantasy landscapes.
One colorful landscape of greens and yellows falls against a bright blue sky, that blue, the color of the grotto at the bottom of my dream pool. And I am transported to that pool many years before, the water warm and much too deep. The hunger of a seven-year-old for the love and company of those souls in the blue grotto at the bottom of the pool. The bright African colors of awatery crowd calling me toward heaven beyond the deepest blue.
Everything you recall from the past is re-imprinted with new experiences and emotions as memories respond to your expanding view of the world. Because your exact experiences and emotions differ from everyone else’s. The collage formed by memory, education, experience, genetic threads, and much more, are different from those of every once else. You are unique. You draw upon this in everything you write. And this alone defines your unique voice.