Hi, friends! On this episode of Courage to Write, let me be honest with you about a third challenge that I face on the daily: BEING HONEST IN MY WRITING.
I know, I know, I write fiction, which is inherently fictitious, or at least let’s hope. But no matter how fictitious it is, it’s supposed to be deeply and painfully TRUE. Even when the story is set to follow every trope imaginable in cringeworthily unrealistic ways, tropes only ever become tropes because they show us what we truthfully want or don’t want, what makes us feel something and what doesn’t.
I want to give my stories the truth-level in the characters, plot, and language that they deserve. I want to represent my own values and honor the experiences and ideas that lead me to write what I do. How beautiful (and dare I say, lovely) it would be to express earnest conviction in a masterful story that nourishes my readers in heart, soul, and mind!
But, reader, I can barely nourish myself.
What I mean to say is it’s so hard to write what I believe and know I believe it and it’s not just some kind of knee-jerk reaction to how I want to world to see me. Being human is weird because I want to speak my truth and encourage others, but also sometimes I just want to be liked. Too bad I also resent trying to be liked.
Do you see the tension?! Friends, I have had enough.
Welp. Just in time for me to edit my work in progress!
You see, in a first draft, the tension is always there, but I try to subvert it because perfectionism can be an all too easy hindrance to creative freedom. I mean, yes, I may draft a scene and feel such a severe form of embarrassment or paranoia that I run away from my screen and scream until no one at all hears me and I have to go back and type away because that’s what I told myself I’d do and I gotta follow through, man.
I hate that feeling. But you know what’s worse? Editing a manuscript only to find that you don’t believe it’ll either catch a reader’s attention or edify them if it had. I write for myself. I hope to write even more for God. But I know that to honor God and what He’s invested into me, I’m supposed to pass on the blessing. Of course, once again, I’m human, and my writing won’t always be a blessing to everyone–it could hurt people, push them away, or something worse, even when I find it encouraging and hopeful. Regardless of how hard I try, I can’t control any of that.
That is so scary.
And so I want to hide. I want to write what will placate others, what won’t dare to rock the boat. I want to wrap up my stories in such a nice ribbon that no one will complain. I want to apologize in advance. I don’t mean to suggest that I take up any space or bother you in the slightest. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
It’s so hard to be honest. I can’t tell you how risky it feels to open my document right now, to face all that it won’t live up to, to reckon with all the ways it might land wrong or mislead. What if no one even wants it anyway?
I’m not going to try to be hunky-dory about this. What we put out in the world can have severe consequences and pushback. Talk is cheap, but it’s costly. There are real risks to being honest that we all must acknowledge, and sure, I can write something healing for myself, and others can completely invalidate my identities, beliefs, and life choices. I know because it’s happened to me before. And I hear it happen to others all the time.
It’s so hard to be honest. Thankfully, my God cares about my truth, my feelings, my calling. He doesn’t sweep me aside because I didn’t perform perfectly or live up to His expectations and stereotypes. Instead, He encourages me to speak what I think with wisdom and discretion, submitting the outcomes to Him. Even when I mess up and hurt others or other people hurt me, He desires to heal every party involved. He desires full redemption, and He wants to use my writing to accomplish that.
In this next draft, I’m going to try my best to be honest, to seek God’s heart, to step away when needed, and to risk when called. I’m ready. I will trust the God of all goodness, grace, and relentless love. And maybe I’ll even open my document–tomorrow. 😉