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?

On writing and being authentic

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:

  1. The only person you really need to please is you.
  2. Readers usually take what you write at face value.
  3. 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.
  4. People don’t care as much as you think they do.
  5. 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.

21 thoughts on “On writing and being authentic

  1. That’s a very deep question indeed. Often, I find that most of my characters have a little bit of me in them. Sometimes it’s intentional and at other times, it just creeps in unconsciously. You’re right – we need to please ourselves first. When I fail to do that, my posts don’t make it past the “draft” stage. And everyone will have a different interpretation. I find writing fiction to be therapeutic too.


    1. Exactly how it happens with me 🙂 And I think sometimes it also happens because I try to put myself in my character’s shoes when I think about how they’d react to something.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i would have to beg to differ
    profane or obscene
    is how your mind and heart can become tho
    you have the ability and the willingness
    to open those parts of yourself
    to us here
    well done~
    but do not demean
    the process ever~
    consider this we would never cross
    paths otherwise
    and in my opinion
    that would be to my loss
    have a nice day


  3. Two very complicated statements. I’ll think about it.
    I totally agree when you say, ‘The only person you really need to please is you.’ because no amount of praise can please you if you’re not pleased with your own work.
    And I enjoy writing fiction. It’s so fascinating to be in the world you have built, with the people you have created.


  4. That’s always a battle- how much to put out. While I wanted to empty my heart on my blog, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for what may come. The point you mentioned about people not seeing it the way we meant for it to be seen makes a lot of sense. What we put out impacts people in a different way and it is fascinating to see those new experiences unfold.


    1. That’s exactly why I said that though it may be sad, it’s also beautiful 😀 You’re right – you do have to choose how much, what and in what form you put yourself out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would say that’s quite a mature viewpoint to look at writing as an expression. Admire the way you’ve put up your thoughts.


  6. I deliberately used that commandment differently because I was so upset at the way that wedding was done and needed to let it all out! 😀 I do agree that intention is what really matters. When we speak from the heart about something we care about like the environment, for example, it’s okay to be honest! But to be honest when describing a person you actually know as ugly, well that’s overstepping! Sharing yourself in a blog, being authentic for the whole world to see, well that’s brave!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These are great points for a writer to dwell on. The writing process is the flow of emotions and the construct of characters and storyline around it. If a writer believes in the story then this conviction will probably pass on to the reader. But I do agree that the writing craft should be a pleasurable experience. Creativity doesn’t thrive in forced environments. 🙂


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