I’m finding that writing with honesty is about as difficult as finding the perfect pair of jeans. There are different jeans for different moods (as well as for differing caloric intakes throughout a specific period of time) and even if I like a pair I’ll usually fretfully gaze at myself in the mirror for a good 15 minutes, trying to decide if my opinion of how I look will match up with everyone else’s opinion of how I look.
When I’m writing, the same thing happens… I’ll pause to review my work and then wonder what everyone else* will think of it.
"Will this offend someone? I mean, it really is what I think my character would say, but what if a reader takes offense?..."
This thought shapes my work more than I care to admit.
It’s embarrassing because honesty is crucial to good writing.
The friend who I feel most comfortable with is the friend who is honest, even when it hurts (and even when their opinion seems flawed).
The author whose work I love to re-read over and over again is honest, even when his/her words occasionally rub me the wrong way.
What I love about some of my favorite authors is that when they write, the walls come down. Barriers created by “politically correct trends” are replaced with an almost childlike sincerity.
So, I’d like to work on remembering that to write well is to observe and report, as opposed to observing with an eye to manipulate, and then reporting.
We all know that life involves many situations and concepts that are difficult to accept. I find these situations and concepts much easier to deal with when I’ve read a related book written by someone with the decency to bring such subjects to the fore.
A well- written story does more than pick us up and drop us in a land of make-believe, it reintroduces us to our own heart.
What I mean is that by being honest, writers help (themselves and) the rest of us to grasp key aspects of human nature.
When we understand ourselves, we fare better.
So, I love that most writers, and especially the good ones, are honest, honest, honest.
Nora Ephron was quoted as saying, "That is the truest sign of insanity--insane people are always sure they are fine. It is only the sane people that are willing to admit that they are crazy."
Honesty is admitting to the weirdness that comes with being human.
Some of my **favorite writers are: Anna Maxted, Carl Sagan, Tina Fey. What do you think about writing with honesty and who are your favorite writers?
Thanks for reading this!!
*everyone else refers to the two lovely individuals who actually read my work : ) and are probably reading this sentence. That’s right, you!
**This list changes every 15 minutes and I wanted to add Shakespeare to it but I thought that would be cheesy. But seriously, Shakespeare never leaves this list.
Lately, I've made it a goal to write from the perspective of a character who says what's on her mind.
I'd begun to habitually write from the perspective of the unrealistic "Miss Nicey Nice" who is shy, awkward, and has no idea just how beautiful she really is etc... you know that character, yeah, it's the skinny blonde in every Disney movie.
But, we all know that the above mentioned personality-type is quite rare in real life (I only have one friend like that and even she has an "i hate everyone, bahhh!!" day every now and then).
So, I was writing away with this goal in mind as I created "Drew In High School" and also started another story called "Beauty and The Beast" where the beast is feminine... and all of a sudden I'm noticing that my own personality is gradually changing!
Now, of course I realize that lack of sleep, health, and other factors contribute to a crummy mood but... seriously?! I'm normally always trying to think the best of people and la de dah....but all of a sudden I'm walking through the halls of my day job looking at everyone I happen to pass and making snarky Joan Rivers-like comments about them (mentally, not out loud because I'm not brave like Drew ).
It's terrible! Never before have I rolled my eyes so often or been as viciously sarcastic as I am right now. Argh!
Now I know how Alec Baldwin feels.
No...on second thought, I take that back.
I doubt that anyone knows how Alec Baldwin feels, including Alec Baldwin. Poor guy. With him, it's got to be more than a passing mood swing. But anyway... In the end, Cinderella's evil step mother wasn't the one who lived happily ever after, and I'm not looking forward to ending up like her.
So, my plan is to come up with a new storyline that will involve my, once again, writing through the eyes of an awkward Princess Nicey-Nice character! Does this happen to you? Do you find yourself thinking like the very characters you're writing about?
It’s been said many times that a person should “write what they know”.
I’ve decided to take this advice with a grain of salt.
The grain of salt is this:
“The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” Socrates
I'm pretty sure that not every author who has ever written a great mystery actually spent time with their local police force, working as a detective and male writers who write from the perspective of a female character have, in most cases, never temporarily become female.
Yet, their stories are compelling and believable.
How is this possible?
It has to be possible due to the fact that our brains come equipped with a beautiful thing called imagination!
Imagination, the first cousin of empathy, allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of a person whose culture, background, family life, and every day happenings is completely different from that of our own.
As imagination moves us to"become" this new character, watching the world through their eyes, some part of our own personality begins to mature.
The way to not only write, but to live, in the fullest sense is to occasionally remove ourselves from the skin we’ve grown comfortable in and see life from a different perspective. I thought about this topic for a number of reasons, and one main reason has to do with a few of my friends who happen to be Deaf.
Sometimes, when I’m in the company of a hearing friend and a Deaf friend, as all three of us are together I forget to sign and just start talking to my hearing friend.
Recently, a hearing friend of mine who has a Deaf person in her family mentioned to me how hurtful it can be to completely exclude a Deaf person from a conversation.
Of course I didn’t mean to purposely exclude my Deaf friend, I just got "tired of signing". Even so, by my failure to view the situation from my Deaf friend's point of view I made her feel left out.
Now, I can imagine how she must have felt, watching the two hearing people who she viewed as friends, laughing and talking with each other. If I were her, I would've put on a poker face, so as not to show how dejected I felt, and carefully watched their lips as I tried to make out just what they were laughing about...
Not cool Paula, not cool…so, I’ve got to work on signing more with my Deaf friends... and also on writing from the perspective of a character who it may be a challenge for me to relate to.
This post was soooo random, thanks for stopping by to read it, lol!
Paula Reflects On The Past Two Weeks
Last week, I found out that due to totally bombing a job interview, I was rejected by a company that I really admire.
For one reason or another (or, more likely, for numerous reasons!) I simply didn’t make the cut.
The next week things started looking up; a literary agent expressed interest in one of my manuscripts!
Shortly thereafter, I was rejected again.
Every time I screw up a big opportunity, I'm left dazed and hurt, feeling as though I’ve been punched in the face.
First, there's the numbing pain followed by a state of shock during which I agonize over every possible reason why I've just been punched in the face.
In other words, being rejected is no fun at all!
But the good thing about being rejected is that it lets us come face to face with the ground.
As unpleasant as it may sound, there is something to be said for the shock of the trip as you stumble, the feeling of losing control as you fall, and that moment of coming face to face with cold cement.
Once we fall, we realize that falling isn’t so bad.
We see things from a different perspective when we’re on the ground, and then we find our bearings and we stand.
Last night I was with a friend who was showing me pictures from her awesome tree-climbing adventures in Quebec. She said that as her group made their way through the trees, they were tied to a rope with a hook. This rope and hook would prevent potentially serious injuries from occurring should any of the climbers fall.
But, the thing is, before they started climbing the trees, the guide had each of them practice falling.
This way, they’d realize that falling (with the hooks safely in place) isn’t so bad and they’d be less afraid to fall as they made their way through the heights of the trees.
What an excellent analogy for life!
Sometimes we have to practice falling, failing, being rejected, and feeling like we’re not good enough and then we learn from what happened and we allow ourselves to be picked up.
Knowing what it's like to fall makes standing so much better.
So, while rejection isn’t the greatest feeling in the world, I love the increased perspective and experience that it offers.
What have you learned from losing? Please share, I need some encouragement!!
Thanks : )