Hanging our lives on the line in bright sun; Truth and transparency in life and in writing.
I am a writer working on a memoir, blogging, and occasionally writing poetry. In particular, my blogs are inspirational letters to myself and to readers with the goal to inspire, energize, and encourage every reader to live their best life.
When writing poetry, I don’t have the same goal. It is more personal. I seek to expose all the sides of something or just write for the love of the sounds of the words. Writing so much about heart things, love, love lost, family, feelings in poems, I dig deep and let all the skeletons show. I lay it out bare, don’t hide the worst, because I have found it is easier to tell the truth in poetry, where it can be dealt with in the abstract.
Without names or places, the truth becomes anonymous. It is so freeing to say anonymously what I can’t or sometimes shouldn’t say any other way.
Telling the truth is an act of intimacy.
When we are genuine, we draw people closer.
When we lie, even in small ways, or don’t reveal ourselves, we are in a defensive posture. We are holding people back. Not owning our own wants or desires by keeping them to ourselves is a defense.
Just as poetry opens the door to all sides of truth for me, writing fiction gives writers the same freedom.
We can give a character the attributes of our worst selves, let the evil black heart show. A fictional villain is just that, fictional.
In comparison, in memoir and in my blog, I tell the story of myself. I am owning the negative behavior and not so beautiful parts of myself.
I give the grime my name, so it is harder to share the worst. With that in mind, even though I would rather only share words of inspiration, light, love, recording genuine truth gives any writing more life. It becomes relatable, evokes empathy, or awakens our own searches for a better life.
Someone writing a memoir may choose to sugarcoat their story to protect themselves. I get it, but too much of that and it doesn’t ring true. Some writing comes across that way, unrealistically sweet, kind, courageous, and heroic. Heroes have flaws. We don’t always do the right thing, but the story is still worth telling.
When we are not genuine, our writing/our lives will have the air of something that is not quite right.
Remember lack of honesty pushes people away, because it isn’t intimate.
It won’t resonate; it may even sound self righteous. In the light of transparency, I have struggled while writing my memoir with what to leave in and what to take out. It was not my intension to write a tell-all book, but I have to tell some to tell the story. I skipped scenes and told myself that those did not add to the story or push the plot forward. But, sometimes, I just didn’t want to tell what happened out of complete embarrassment for myself or others.
I left out many stories about others that were marks on their otherwise pure lives, because those are not my skeletons to reveal and serve no purpose.
In the latest rewrite of my memoir, I have been more forthcoming and let more of my true self show.
Like a sheet just out of the wash, hanging our lives on the line in bright sun reveals our darkest truths, our greatest failures, and our most interesting moments.
Triumph makes more sense when we have seen the depths.
Joy rings true when we show the depression that sucked the life right out of us. We are not characters in a book. We will exhibit “out of character” behavior from time to time, but seeing our own flaws, revealing them makes us better writers and for people at large, better human beings.
Transparency creates humility. Owning our behavior creates empathy.
Our story becomes more approachable, more compelling when we tell the truth.
We have better relationships when we take ownership of our own honest feelings.
I think sometimes I am an author who is still learning to write. Somehow, after all this time, I am enjoying the process even though I haven’t completed a manuscript to publish. Meanwhile, I am blogging for therapy and honing my craft.
Next time you sit down to write or talk to a friend, own it. Tell the truth, be transparent. Suppress the need to tell the small lie. Own your behavior, be truthful about what you want.
If you don’t want to do something, say “I would rather not” or “No, thank you” or “It is not my thing.” You are allowed to choose how you live and a life that is genuine will be so much more satisfying.
Writing that is honest will be compelling. Telling the truth is an act of intimacy.