Once upon a time, a shy girl loved music and she had a beautiful singing voice. But she was too shy to sing loud enough for anyone else to hear her. She memorized scores of lyrics and performed concerts in her head, and envied her younger brother who turned out several roles in community musicals because he was unafraid of being heard.
One day, when the girl was twelve, her family watched the Les Miserables Tenth Anniversary Concert, and that simple event marked the start of a change in the girl. She fell in love with a certain song in the musical, and the singer who sang it. Lea Salonga became the girl’s muse, and On My Own her personal ballad.
Some time later, the girl attended a youth event at her church, at which the youth were given the opportunity to perform karaoke for their peers. The girl longed to overcome her shyness and sing at last. She searched through the available musical accompaniments, determined that if only her song were available, then she would sing it. With trembling hands, she found what she was looking for, and when it was her turn she handed the disc to the adult running the karaoke machine, pointed out the track she wanted, took up the microphone, and prepared to sing.
Her friends and peers and a few scattered adults looked back at her as she tried to keep her eyes from making direct contact with anyone else. The musical introduction began, and then she began to sing. Her voice wavered at first, unused to the exercise of singing above an undertone. But she had not decided to come up here to whisper a song that no one could hear; she wanted to share her song. So she pushed herself forward with the next lines, allowing the feelings in her heart to swell from her breast and power her voice to sing as she had never sung before. She fumbled the lyrics at one point, but the music would not stop for her and so she kept singing even though the heat rose a little in her face. At last, her final note faded and the accompaniment ended, and the girl looked down at the floor in front of her feet. Everyone in the room clapped for her, and while she felt pleased she was also still shy and retreated quickly from the front of the room to sit in the audience with her friends and enjoy the rest of the concert.
At the end of the evening, as the girl helped put away chairs, another older girl approached her. This was a young woman whom the girl looked up to as a talented singer and a genuinely nice person. The young woman– along with many others– complimented her on her beautiful singing, but the highest praise which remained with the girl for years later, was when the young woman said to her, “You put your whole soul into that song.”
In the time following that first shaky but stirring performance, the girl had many more opportunities to share her voice singing other songs for other audiences both large and more intimate. Every time she sought to pour her soul into her song as she had that first time; and after each performance she evaluated herself by this criterion more than any other.
After that first evening, the girl never felt too shy to sing for anyone ever again. She had no regrets, save that she wished she had worked up the courage to do it much sooner.
Today, many many years later, that same girl has worked up the courage to share another of her passions with the world: her writing. And just as with her singing, she hopes to pour her soul into every story– into every character and every setting and every emergent theme. If she falters at times on her sentence structure, if her dialogue comes out stilted or her characters sometimes fall flat, she will learn from these things and always seek to improve in the future. But if her soul is in it, then that will be the most important thing. If the story has soul, then it will find its place in the hearts of those who need the story most, even if it is not entirely perfect.
And she will live by her motto, come what may: