Write honestly… It sounds like a no-brainer, really, doesn’t it? After all, why would anyone write any other way? And yet many people do. I wonder if the experience, for them as writers, is as unsatisfying as it is for me as a reader?
When I read, I immerse myself in the stories as they unfold. The richer and more beautiful the language, the more it compels me. Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean that I’m necessarily drawn to great literature. But I am drawn to well told stories – ones that have depth and character, language that means something to me and images that stay with me after I put the book down.
When I started to write for fun rather than work, that’s what I hoped to achieve. I joined a writing group and the thing I remember most clearly from the first session is being told to ‘write from the heart’. I wasn’t too clear on what that meant at the time, but I’ve since figured out that it means to write authentically, to use words and language that resonate with me as a writer – and as a reader. In essence, to write honestly.
So when I write I use language – and vernacular – I’m comfortable with. As a result, my writing sounds like me. It’s a risky thing to do and I often feel vulnerable because of it – but that’s what writing honestly means for me – and it’s taught me a lot about myself.
I tend not to write reviews, but I wrote this in my journal in response to a couple of books I read:
These books became my constant companions, in my head when not in my hands, the characters wandering through my days with me. I felt so rich and full and satisfied when I turned the last page – and yet lonely and sad as well, which was unexpected… Sometimes words are so beautiful, so rich and plump with meaning and shape that I want to scoop them up with both hands and devour them. At the same time I want to enfold myself in them, savor the taste of individual vowels and consonants that make up each word, each sentence. I yearn to be able to write like that – to create collections of words as stories that capture and enrapture a reader so completely.
Since that’s the sort of response I’d like to get from a reader, it was both a delight and a surprise to receive feedback last night from someone who’s just read my memoir. She rang up to tell me that she’d spent the whole day reading Girdle of Bones, hadn’t been able to put it down (other than for obligatory pitstops), and had read it from cover to cover in one sitting. “It was amazing, thank you,” she said.
To say this feedback made me feel warm all over (and very writerly) is an understatement 🙂