The Voice of Truth and Lies

Today’s guest post is from regular contributor Darrelyn Saloom. Follow this most lovely writer on Twitter. The photo above is of Darrelyn’s grandmother Ara Coleman Wilkerson (1900-1929).

I’ve written about feeding The Muse (who craves poetry and art in a quest to inspire). But once inspiration has sprung forth and the bones have been written, it’s time to listen to Intuition while you edit and revise. For a writer’s life is an inward journey that must tell truth from lies.

writers balk at this part of the writing process, but it can be a
pleasurable mine: to confer with your sixth-sense (though she can nag
at times), but only because she lives in the subconscious and is
indefatigable and wise.  

Intuition is the voice you can’t hear
because it’s a hunch, an inkling you feel as you rewrite. It questions
word usage. And pesters that something’s not right: an awkward
sentence, a paragraph, or (at worst) every line. And she can be better
than spell check at times.

One way to recognize Intuition is to
recall moments when compelled to act in the midst of strife. Perhaps an
impromptu visit to a friend, you encountered a future wife; or you
didn’t go when the light turned green, which may have saved your life.

can also identify Intuition by evoking occasions you scoffed her
advice. Remember that test you took, knew you had the wrong answer,
refused to change it, and failed to get it right; or sped through an
intersection as yellow blinked to red, and then saw flashing blue

Can you hear it now? Don’t be so sure. It may be the
voice of language: the loud one that encourages more pie “With ice
cream this time!” The one that has had too much to drink and says,
“It’s okay to drive!” And it’s a familiar voice. But do you know her

As a writer, it’s imperative to discern the difference.
Listen. Can you hear it? Is it the voice that uses words? That tries to
convince editing is not your job, but the job of a publisher’s sprite.
“Don’t they have an entire staff to do this stuff?” it cries.

Did you hear it? That’s the voice of Sabotage, and it’s the voice of lies.
now that you know the difference, be still and quiet when time to
rewrite. Summon an instance when a hunch or inkling proved to be right.
Listen to the soundless voice of Intuition. And take her advice.  

* * *

I first sat down to write about Intuition, I wrote a story about my
grandmother, Ara, who died of tuberculosis when my father was seven.
She left three young sons behind. I had never met my uncles until my
father was about to die. An emotional few days, I felt the presence of
my grandmother the entire time.

The day my uncles flew home, my
sister Jeanne and I escorted our father to his radiation appointment. I
drove the car and was compelled not to go when the light turned green,
which may have saved our lives. Because a delivery truck ran its red
light and barreled through the intersection. And the truck had a sign.
In bold letters we watched ARA SERVICES go by.

That day I named
Intuition for my grandmother Ara. And when it came time to edit and
revise this piece, every line but the one about the green light was
deleted and out poured The Voice of Truth and Lies. So this is for my
grandmother Ara, who sits with me when I rewrite.

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0 thoughts on “The Voice of Truth and Lies

  1. Monica

    Your post resonated with me particularly, b/c I’ve had a similar experience. Years ago at a green light, a car going the other way decided to make a U-ee. I decided I’d just wait, rather than make a fuss or go around them. I’m thankful for that intuition, or whatever you’d like to call it, especially considering the semi-truck that ran thru the red light as I would have been going thru it.

    Your post was wonderfully affirming of what I’ve always tried to do – listen to that inner voice, in whatever form it may come. For you, I’m glad you have your grandmother’s voice.

  2. Mary

    Maybe it’s because I’m a grandmother and old enough to have had plenty of experience with Intuition (truth) and Sabatoge (lies). But I just loved this piece.

  3. Lindsay Price

    I’m echoing many of the sentiments here when I say this is a fabulous post. I completely connect, I’m sure because the voices of Intuition and Sabotage are both equally loud in my head. Well, that didn’t sound so good did it – 🙂

    There are things that just cannot be taught and Intuition is one of them. The prickly feeling when you’re working on something and you know your choice is the right one. For me, (and again this is going to sound weird) it’s like an invisible rhythm that governs the writing and allows me to listen loud and clear for Intuition. Following the need to keep the rhythm constant and flowing makes it easier to ignore the screeching sound of Sabotage.

    Now if only I could do that in other aspects of my life….

  4. Jillian

    Darrelyn, your writing draws me in and keeps me captured until the end.

    I must admit that I live by my intuition and it is what compels me to continue to write. My life with three boys is often chaotic and so I often rely on intuition alone to guide me. Either I am a lucky individual or a wise soul as I usually end up choosing the right path, knock on wood.

    As always, you blow the wind in my sails and steer me closer to my goals.

    Best, Jillian

  5. Sally G

    Passion, committment, intuition and drive. Many of the greatest works of art have come about because of a lack of formal education…no dampening of the spirit that drives the individual’s work, no pigeon-holing of ideas. Darrelyn has all of the elements that will make her voice heard above others and how lucky for all of us that she is "coming into her own" now at a point in her life where she reflects, with humor and wisdom, the intricacies and delicate dances we all do on a daily basis. She does this, perhaps, with more awareness than some and this is why we listen.

  6. allison davis

    Darrelyn speaks the truth in a simple, lovely but crystal clear manner. We all know these voices, the ones that get us into trouble and save our asses. I ignore at my peril and listen to my relief. To have the message taught by G’ma Ara is especially poignant. Darrelyn has the voice of many wonderful southern writers, a little Welty like. She is definitely one of my top favorite follows on twitter.

  7. Rob Hendrix

    Must say that I am becoming a fan of Darrelyn Saloom. Intuition seems to be easier for women than men for some reason. And I think this is exactly what I need to do when I revise because that is the hardest part of writing for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  8. cynthia newberry martin

    I love that you’ve named your voice for your grandmother. And that last part of your post gave me chills!

    This voice for me is so faint that I have to be really paying attention to hear it. Sometimes it doesn’t even come in words, but just this feeling that something on the preceding page wasn’t right. I used to blow it off, thinking it wasn’t important. Now I’ve learned that that’s what I’m listening for when I’m revising.

    Nice post, Darrelyn.

  9. Gay Walker

    I don’t wait until revision to involve my intuition. When I’m still in first draft and stuck on plot or some other story element, I invite my intuition to the party. I find if I get out of the way, the muse will take over and provide a solution–and in my best work, I’ve let her write the whole thing, from start to finish.

    Robert Olen Butler has written a book about that, FROM WHERE YOU DREAM. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  10. Melissa Holmes

    What a great article and clever poem! I don’t think enough emphasis is normally put on intuition in writing; it’s great to see addressed in such a fun way. It makes me want to reread Blink.

  11. Barbara @ Hole In The Donut

    Call it what you will: muse, inner voice, intuition…I know it exists. I call it "listening to my guides" and they have taught me never to ignore the information they impart. Whenever I have dismissed these "hunches" I have been sorry. These days I listen, trust, and always act on what I am told. It’s also a very valuable tool when writing, but I can;t always tap directly into it when I need to. Sometimes, I just have to wait for the muse to come to me.

  12. Edwin C. Allman

    I just read "The Voice of Truth and Lies." In my humble opinion, it’s a masterpiece. I’m sometimes at a loss for words when I encounter a piece of writing this rich, and honest, and evocative.

    I felt that thrilling "ringing" sensation I always get when I encounter something as profound as this story about Ms. Saloom’s grandmother, Ara. This is an astonishing essay, full of love and light and profound wisdom.

    Darrelyn Saloom has given us a treasure that is literally life-changing – and life-affirming.

  13. Kris Porotsky

    Wow! Thanks for sharing the story about your grandmother. That’s chilling to think how paying attention to your intuition can save your life.

    I guess I need to work more on learning how to let intuition guide my editing efforts. Inevitably I edit and polish until I think I’ve got my best work. Then I solicit the input of others and get contradictory suggestions that really throw me for a loop. I suppose I need to let intuition guide me in knowing what suggestions I should accept, and which are the voice of Sabotage you referred to!

    Thanks for bringing up the subject!

  14. TheLady22

    what a beautiful piece and so true. by listening to intuition, i think we know also what is genuine and what is forced. i can sit in front of a sentence for an hour seeking the "truth" of what i’m talking about, and i think that’s precisely why so many people let sabotage get in the way. you have to work for truth. invest in it, cherish it. and believe that it will never let you down. You definitely achieved that goal with this beautiful essay Darrelyn!

  15. Jenny Kane

    Thank you Darrelyn! It can be so hard to tell the difference between the two voices. It is good advice to remember times you listened to and ignored your intuition. I can think of many examples of both, and it helps me find my center and trust my intuition. I love the idea of naming your intuition, what a fun way to bring it even more to life! And thank you for sharing the story about your Grandmother Ara. What an amazing blessing to have received such a clear sign!

    I am looking forward to your next post!

    Jenny Kane

  16. Debra Marrs

    Darrelyn, LOVE it, absolutely love it! What a soulful meditation for the writer. Truly inspiring, my dear!

    I’m sharing with all my writer friends, and even better, many of my non-writer friends too. Maybe they’ll "get it" when I tell them that writing is not as simple as typing word after word on a page.

    Thanks for the inspiration. LOVE the photo of Grandmother Ara.

    @DebraMarrs (on Twitter)


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