I just read an interesting post from Sage Coen who commented that she was writing crap (my paraphrase) instead of writing what she really needed to say. Natalie Goldberg combats this tendency of circular writing by breaking the pattern of her free writing and quickly dashing “What I really mean to say is . . . “ and then writing more honestly from there.
I support the concept of writing deeply and expressively I really do. I think we should all write deeply and expressively.
By “we” I mean “you”.
I hail from Viking /Norman/English/ Puritan stock whose very existence depended on either suppression or violence. I will never sit in a circle and share my feelings with strangers; I’d rather smite something with a mace. There in lies my own conflict; how to express what is real? What can I do to express the truth? If the writing isn’t real it becomes cartoonish, shallow and yes, boring. I don’t want that. You don’t want that.
So what to do? I express my vicious thoughts freely into journals that will never be opened by humans during this century. I don’t even re-read my own journals. Ewwww.
You may agree. You may even own a mace, a Xena sword and a gag in case someone in the family starts sharing their feelings without warning. But what does that mean for authentic writing?
It can still work.
Sentence by sentence, I pick out the true and authentic from the journal and drop those feelings into into a novel. When a raw truth is uttered by a fictional character, it makes the character look terribly profound and honest and it gets me, a former Viking with weapons off the hook. The character is expressing vulnerability, not me. How easy it that?
So if you are not inclined to just blurt out your past in public forums, there is another way to dash across that open ground of honesty without become too vulnerable to attack. It’s like writing the truth while staying heavily armed.