I’ve never been one to dissect every word for hidden meanings (unless it’s a message from my children!). But I was intrigued when I recently heard a lecturer analyze a seemingly simple sentence: ”Listen to her voice.”

That’s actually from the Bible, which I had too little acquaintance with until a few years ago when I discovered the first Biblical heroines. (I wrote about those remarkable women in my book, Ten Women of Valor.) So I recognized the sentence this lecturer was referring to. It was said when Sarah, the first matriarch, demanded that her husband, Abraham, banish his first–born son and the woman who had given birth to him. Since Abraham loved this son, Ishmael, he was understandably conflicted. According to the Bible, that’s when God told him he should listen to Sarah’s voice.

To me , that’s a perfectly clear order. But the lecturer asked: “Why voice ? Why not her words?”

It seems that the difference is that words are utterances between people, but not necessarily what someone is feeling beneath the surface. Sarah’s spoken request was strong and demanding. But beneath this assertive speech, were fear about what she saw as a threat to her own son and anguish about this other woman. She was too proud to tell her husband, “I’m scared and heartsick.” Fortunately for her, he listened beyond the words and heard the fear and pain in her voice.

It may seem hair-splitting to quibble about the difference between voice and words, but I leapfrogged to a connection with writing. (So many paths lead to writing with me.) Too often we fill our stories, poems, even letters, with excess verbiage, when it would be better to allow room for the underlying meaning to come through. I still have to guard against a tendency to spell out every nuance, as if the reader won’t get the meaning if I don’t. In my long-ago college days, a savvy writing teacher drew huge red X’s through some of my paragraphs and wrote: Trust Your Reader.

Years later this advice was echoed in different words in a writers’ group I shared with science fiction author Carol Emshwiller. In the barrage of comments thrown at me after I finished reading my latest (wordy) effort, Carol said simply,  “The most important thing in a story is the space between the lines.”

Haunting advice, “trust” and “space.”  Or is it Trust Space?

Since there couldn’t be more astute advice, I won’t add extra words to this blog!

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com

BOOKS:   ROLE PLAY and TEN WOMEN OF VALOR -CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle.  TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW – xLibris.com;  WIDOW’S WALK – iUniverse.com


It’s finally over – that loved and lauded TV hit,”Downton Abbey.”(Over except for what will probably be endless reruns and, invariably, a movie.) What lingers for addicts like myself isn’t just the memory of living vicariously in the Edwardian age, with those oh- so-elegant costumes and table manners. What also lingers, especially for writers, are numerous witty echoes. (The Dowager’s ”What’s a weekend?” seems to be the most quoted.)

However, amid all the memorable lines, I’m haunted by one from the final episode: “Your Mary isn’t my Mary.” A riddle? Not at all. Merely that Lady Mary’s new husband sees her as a warm passionate woman, generous-hearted with the servants — while her brother-in- law knows first-hand Mary’s snobbery, coldness and cruelty to her sister. Actually, both men are seeing the real Mary, just opposite sides of her.

How many of us have at least one person in our life whom we find difficult and whom we could describe in negative terms? My father, for a personal instance, I would describe as taciturn, stern, morose. Yet, as I discovered at his funeral, a friend who’d known him for decades recalled a man with a great, if cynical, sense of humor, who was devoted to his mother and sister. Which image was right? Both of them – for if there are the proverbial two sides to a coin, there are certainly multiple sides to every person.

In my youthful “other life” as an actor, I was taught that to enact a villain believably, I had to find something good in her. Just as when playing a “goody-goody” heroine it enriched the performance to inject some not so nice traits. I later learned that this applies to writing, as well. To portray someone as “good” or “bad,” is to confine that character to one dimension – which is simplistic and also makes the story less interesting.

Since I’m addicted to journaling, I confess that when I have difficulty with someone in my life, writing about that person from my own angry view, and then from the imagined view of someone who admires that same person, is an effective way to recognize an inescapable truth: none of us is either/or.

WEBSITE: www.annehosansky.com

BOOKS : Role Play and Ten Women of Valor – both available at CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle. Widow’s Walk– iUniverse.com.  TurningToward Tomorrow – xLibris.com.