Friday, March 19th, 2004 • No Comments on The Sum of My Parts
I know it may seem like I’m putting an awful lot of my life out here on the internet for public consumption. I suppose I am, in a sense. These thoughts and musings I share are very personal, whether they are about my writing or my emotions or my relationships. Yet, this is only a snapshot of my life, not the full screen technicolor version. It can’t be, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is this: I may allow you a peek into how my mind works (scary thought, eh?) or share some aspect of my life, but you will never know who I am just by reading what I write.
On any given day I may write about a deeply personal event from my past or something so mundane as the lyrics to a stupid song. This is not a confessional or a place to air my grievances against anyone in my life. I am not Catholic and if I have a problem with you, you’ll know it. Still, to be a writer means to make yourself vulnerable—whether you journal on the internet or you write fictional stories in paperback novels. There is a piece of me in everything I have ever written and the very best of what I’ve written has been starkly honest. Every time I sit down to write something for this page, it is a test: can I tell my story honestly or will I try to protect myself by holding back?
Honesty is not something most people think of when they’re reading fiction. Hell, honesty isn’t something we think of when we read most anything. And yet, honesty is what it’s all about. Not honesty in terms of whether the writer got her facts right, but honest in the sense that it took something out of the writer to write the piece. If the words don’t make the writer laugh, cry or wince in embarrassment, it’s doubtful the reader will have any reaction. If the story or the article or the journal entry isn’t honest, the reader will know. If the writer isn’t fully vested in what she is writing, her words won’t ring true. Writing honestly is harder than learning how to avoid comma splices. Unlike the occasional comma splice, writing that is false will kill a reader’s interest before he reaches the end of the page.
I didn’t know what I was going to write about when I sat down tonight. That’s honest. There are a couple of personal things on my mind right now that I don’t choose to share. That is also honest. Whether what I’ve written to this point seems sincere or simply pretentious is for you to decide.