I have been an absent Crow recently—my apologies. For those of you who don’t know, I am not only a literary agent, but also a very lax blogger, a compulsive baker of cookies, and the mother of a tiny and precocious little girl named Alice, who is just over 400 days old.
On Saturday afternoon, my gracious mother braved the drizzle and traffic and drove to my apartment to spend a few hours chasing my daughter from room to room. She did this not only because she relishes being a grandmother but also because she felt it was her duty to grant me the most fantastic gift one mother can give to another: Sleep.
Stay with me here—this post will eventually be about books. I promise!
Once I got my mother and daughter settled in together, I stumbled into my bedroom, buried myself in the various comforters and sheets and blankets of my bed, and succumbed to a gorgeous, deep, dark, drool-on-the-pillow afternoon nap.
When I finally came to, I lay there for a few moments, trying to regain my wits. The baby monitor in my room was turned on low, and through the tinny speaker, I heard the familiar rustle of pages, followed by the melodic sound of my mother’s voice as she began reading Alice a story. I haven’t heard my mother’s “reading voice” since I was a little girl, and until that moment, I suppose I never even realized that my mother had a “reading voice.” It sounds different from her normal every day voice– lilting, deeper, more confident.
I think that everyone has an inner narrator; that is, when you sit down to read (or write) a story, there is a voice you hear in your head, narrating for you. And on Saturday afternoon, with the rain beating against the windows and the cheerful coos of my daughter bursting like happy static through the baby monitor, I realized that the voice of my inner narrator, whistling back to me through the corridors of time, carrying with it very promise of every wonderful book I have ever read—and will ever read—is the voice of my mother.
Just to make certain I wasn’t absolutely crazy (hearing voices, having mommy-issues, and all that), I queried others about their inner narrators and was relieved to find that most everyone has one. Some people hear their mothers or fathers, some the voices of their schoolteachers, grandparents, or favorite authors. One person even told me that she doesn’t know who her inner narrator is exactly, but she knows beyond a doubt that it’s not her own voice.
To this day, it is my mother’s reading voice that drives the bright kernel of hopefulness I feel upon setting out to write new short story, or to read the first pages of a new novel or manuscript. And I suppose that every time little Alice crawls into my lap with her pile of books and I read to her, pressing my lips to the top of her sweet, sweet head, I do so with the vague optimistic hope that, in some remote future, it will be my voice she hears, my voice that guides her long after I am gone, into each new narrative adventure, into the world of wonder and opportunity that lies behind the title page of every new book.
What about you? Whose voice do you hear when you read or write?