Writing is obscene.
I don’t know if this is my statement or I read it somewhere but I think writing or being a writer is obscene.
You expose the underbelly of the human condition. You talk about things that don’t allow you to escape. You provide a refuge to people who have none. But most of all, you expose yourself, your innermost thoughts, demons and failures for someone else’s entertainment. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said:
You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.
I read Brindha’s post on being authentic and she said that she finds the concept of authenticity selfish. At first, I was taken aback. Because I believe you cannot be a writer of any mettle if you’re not ready to be honest. If you’re unable to scrape off the glitter to find the rock that hides beneath the ornamentation, you have no business being a writer.
I thought on it more and realized Brindha was perhaps right. Being authentic is being selfish. Because I’m using my words to evoke a certain feeling in you. And you, the reader, have no choice but to follow me, down the rabbit hole. Where you and I will emerge, no one knows.
How much authenticity is good though? The first blogging commandment says thou shalt be authentic but how authentic do you need to be in order to be honest?
Intention I feel is what matters most in such cases. How honest do you want, need, can be? Not everything you write has to have a 100% of you but it does need to have some of you. I was watching an interview of Gillian Anderson who plays Margaret Thatcher in The Crown. She was asked how she approached the role of playing a real character and she said that the advice that she was given was to find something of herself within the character to latch onto so that when she pulls emotions, etc. she’s pulling from a real place.
Adding spoonful or tablespoon or cupful of yourself can be hard. Here are some things you can remember so being authentic/selfish/honest is easier:
- The only person you really need to please is you.
- Readers usually take what you write at face value.
- We write in isolation. There’s a certain amount of freedom attached to that. When you decide to share it, the thing you have spent some time creating no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your reader. Nobody will see it the way you meant for it to be seen. And while that may be sad, there’s beauty attached to it as well.
- People don’t care as much as you think they do.
- Stop taking yourself so seriously.
Writing is a strange beast. It helps me to hide in plain sight but also to work through so much of unfulfilled potential, dreams and desires through my characters. I have often heard actors saying when they play similar roles one after the other, they feel like the universe is subtly trying to tell them that they need to work on themselves. And I love that – I love that writing fiction can be so therapeutic for me.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.