We’re Writers, We’re Artists

I was in the middle of writing a blog post about blogging. And then I saw this…

And stopped everything.

I tossed aside my intellectual musings about meta-ness and stopped thinking so hard. I let my thoughts run away from me and appreciated my writing, Mary Lambert’s writing, VALCAN’s writing, you-person-I-don’t-know-yet-reads-my-blog’s writing for the art forms that they are.

Even though I collect a paycheck from a major corporation in exchange for stringing words and commas together, I’m a writer and I’m an artist. Ali’s a writer, front-end developer AND an artist. Vanessa is a digital media specialist, novelist AND an artist, Allegra’s a queer and gender studies rhetorician AND an artist. Chelsea, Noelle and Lauren are writers and artists too.

Our writing projects, be they trivial blog posts such as this, yet-to-be-completed novels, songs, poems, screenplays, cookbooks, websites, are all works of art. And yet I take these projects for granted. When I walk into my shared apartment, too tired to turn on the microwave to heat up leftover Tom-Yum soup, after a long day defending grammar and style in a power suit, I forget that I’m an artist. I forget that I have the resources and skills to finish that screenplay I started and turn it into something. I forget that I could turn these characters dancing around in my imagination into characters in a book instead.

Listening to Mary Lambert (of Same Love w/Macklemore fame) put an extraordinarily powerful poem to music, her calculated and honest articulation, and the beauty of the video reminds me that I could create something meaningful, emotional, and artful too.

I write, I create art. Sometimes all I need for inspiration is to remember that.

NOTE: Let’s take a sec and talk about Mary Lambert’s message. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason why any woman or girl should feel negatively about herself. If you know someone who is struggling with body image, self-worth, depressive thoughts, anxiety, or anything that’s making them feel less than the stellar person that they are, help ’em out. Here’s a website that will get you/them started: To Write Love on Her Arms.

Ashley HaglundAshley works in corporate, health care and non-profit communications. She loves starting new writing projects; is a media junkie; enjoys studying science, technology and patent law issues; and has a love/hate relationship with semi-colons. To see her face and be her internet friend, follow her on twitter.

Voice Lessons for the Tone Deaf

Before we get too deep into our regular posts, I wanted to take a step back and think about what this blog means. How will the seven members of VALANCA interact with each other? How will we interact with you? Sure, we all write on the regular, but communicating across a computer screens is not the easiest thing to do.

So how do we differentiate?

I’m going to get really theoretical here for a second, but then I promise to never do it again because nobody like to see behind the wizard’s curtain for too long.


Voice is your personality in words. Your brand’s personality too, whatever you fancy. Voice is how you know what a person, a company, an anthropomorphized object is like even though you can’t really see them. VALANCA, as you may have noticed, has a very distinctive voice. VALANA might disagree with me, but I’d say we, as a group, are witty but not biting. Daring but not disrespectful. Knowledgeable but not pedantic. I could go on. If we’re doing it right, you probably already felt that. Voice is not something usually discussed out in the open like this. If you’re not actively thinking about it, it can be pretty hard to define. It’s just there, in the background, slowly building and developing like any real personality would.

So what’s tone?

Tone is the nuance behind your voice. It’s how you react in different situations. If you think of voice as a personality, tone is a mood. Your voice should be flexible enough to cover a full spectrum of emotions: witty and yet concerned, witty and enthusiastic, witty but gentle, and so on. Tone proves you’re not a robot, that you have layers.

Still not sure you know what I’m talking about? Maybe this infographic will help:

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Look! Here’s an infographic I made describing the difference between voice and tone.


Chelsea is currently working as a copywriter at a software company. She is a syntax enthusiast and always enjoys a good dinner party.