Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some thoughts (and confessions) as it relates to nonfiction

I must confess: I struggle to tell the truth in my writing. In some way, some how, I am always trying to find the deeper meaning. The hidden story. The thread that weaves the stories together and how they relate to real life. However, as of late, my writing has been far from impressive. It has been weak, stories told with vague allusions but no actual flesh attached to them. I think I am trying to protect myself; protect my family and my friends. I want to keep my stories tidy and safe—free from the clutter and mess that I realized, is wholly unavoidable. And, maybe even, the mess is the defining thread that weaves all stories together. Fiction might be able to told without wrinkle, without a mistake in a character’s line, although I don’t think a good fiction writer would do such a thing, unless intentional. Nonfiction, though, if told truthfully, must have the flaws of characters evident on the pages, because it is real life. If we are not showing the flaws—we are not writing nonfiction. We are writing a fictional account of real life.

So this is where I have been hiding. At one point I might have said I prided myself on my ability to be vulnerable. When it comes to writing vulnerability on the pages lately, though, I have been a little more careful on the words that I choose. All of us have a sense of self-protection intact. If we were all completely unguarded we might not have any friends. I am wary of the friend who overwhelms me with information. One can only take on so much of another human being’s “stuff” before we have lost ourselves in the process. And trust me, I am the first to notice when I am carrying too much of another’s baggage—time to lighten the load. How sad that friendships can sometimes be balanced on the scales of how much another relationship benefits us. I know I do this. Now, relationally, we can only take on so much. In theory. I think we can handle a lot more brokenness than we think. Are we willing? Most of the time, I am not. I gravitate towards safe people, full of wisdom for me - those who inspire. These people are necessary in life, more than necessary, they are incredibly influential in growth, I want to be one of these people. Yet, when you seem close to perfect - even if you are vulnerable - it is misunderstood.

I think I want to be easy for other people. I don’t want to be the friend who weighs others down with their stuff. This is why my writing has suffered. I am convinced that honesty does not need to suffocate. I know this must be true. Honesty can also bring life. The truth can bring freedom. I can only hope that my story will be inspirational and not overwhelming. It’s time to be honest.

Who do I want you, the reader, to think that I am? I suppose I want you to think I am good. Even if I were to allude to badness I would like you to think I am mostly good. Often when I tell a story, I am the victim in the tale. If not the victim, I at least play a neutral character. My life has not been one victimized story after another. My life is full of big mistakes and God coming in and saving the day.

On this blog, my writing is rough draft and scattered. Maybe you do see a little more vulnerability than I give myself credit for. In my essay writing, essays categorized as "creative nonfiction" I have had somewhat of a writer's block for the past few months. The comments I receive each time I get my paper back - "I need more of you." Ah. I don't want to give you more. I want to sit back and be speculative and hide myself in the words. This makes for barely average writing at best. If I'm going to take the challenge of writing creative nonfiction - I better start being real.


Donna Boucher said...

Sometimes we are so alike it's a little freaky.
And then we are so different.

All I can say is that when I put my true feelings out there on my blog...I touch the most people.
Yes, there are sensible boundries you stick to...mostly for other's sakes...
but to say how you feel and what is true for you right now...

It's okay.

Plus a little prayer before beginning to write is essential.
Help me say this right God.


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