“You find your voice not by introspection but by reading.” – Billy Collins, from an interview with Bob Edwards that aired November 24.
I vehemently agree with this statement. Collins was talking about how he’d found his voice as a poet, and he told Bob Edwards that navel-gazing didn’t help him find it — he had to look outside, not inside, in order to discover and hone it. Looking outside here = both looking at the literal outside/the natural world and looking in books/becoming a reader. Put differently: we discover our voice in the company of others, not in isolation from others. And “others” here includes the canon of great writers as well as that neighbor across the street who retrieves the newspaper in his PJs. (or wait, is that me?)