Though I did my best to follow advice, keeping away from formally working the album for the weekend, I couldn't help from asking questions, from assessing progress. All of my thoughts seemed to focus on the metaphor of finding my voice.
How long does it take to find it? Does everyone find it? What keeps us from doing so?
Within the past two weeks, I've felt comfortable with my voice for the first time since I started singing. Though I'm probably between two and four years from completely letting go and really feeling it, the smallest signs of a style are appearing. More importantly, confidence in that style is building.
It's encouraging because when we started, I was extremely self-conscious of it. Once it was time to record, self-consciousness turned to self-criticism. Being scared of singing turned into pointing out the many weaknesses and flaws to improve. I fought every note. It was a struggle. Too much, too soon. But we pushed through. And pushing through started a transition.
Then when making this new song two weeks ago, I recognized a change that had likely been in progress for many months, consciously making note of it. There was a melodic style that felt right and sounded better with less strain. I stopped fighting where my voice wanted to go and let it lead, changing from imitation to acceptance.
When we focus too much on what we would like to be, we miss what we already are. I think that's what keeps many from finding their voice, from doing what sets their heart on fire. Instead of imitating a voice we think will be rewarded, maybe we should develop the voice hidden right below the surface...
Doing so is a reward in itself.