If you can't bare your soul in public, WHY WRITE?

by Ksenia Anske in


Photo by Laura Zalenga

Last week a few people on Twitter told me how bold it is of me to tweet my editing process and my rewrites publicly, to which I answered, "If you can't bare your soul in public, why write?" This inspired Christian Frey to create a blog hop called TRUTH IN FICTION during the week of December 17-21 with 5 writers weighing in on the subject, and I'm closing it today with my post. So then, without further adieu, let's ponder these questions together:

What is truth? I think that's what all great works of fiction do, bare our humanity's soul for everyone to see, or, in other words, bare the truth. Truth starts with the writer's soul, her own pains and nightmares and wishes and dreams, no matter how stupid they might sound, or cheesy, or uninteresting, or boring. We all doubt ourselves as writers, yet when we stop doubting and dive deep into the fabric of our being, cut it open and look inside, that's where our genius lies. Because all writing is, really, is sharing what we feel in the simplest medium there ever was since we learned how to talk. Storytelling. By telling stories we process this crazy thing that happens around us called LIFE and hope that maybe we can understand it a little better if we hold hands, together. And storytelling is exactly that, an act of holding hands and knowing that we're not alone. Hence, I can write a story about eating a bagel that will be dull simply because there's nothing interesting in simply eating a bagel, but if I write how I feel when eating a bagel, how I REALLY feel, there is bound to be a soul out there who will yell, "Me too, me too, I feel like that too!" And that's the truth (perhaps I read to much of The Dark Tower, but that's a different topic).

What is fiction? We're stubborn idiots, most of the time. So it takes for someone to wave a gigantic extra-pink glittery banner in front of our face to get our attention. That's fiction. What's interesting is once you dig into that glittery stuff, you realize it's a magnified prettied up or darkened down real thing, except it's condensed into a digestible story, and all the glitter falls apart in our brain to leave the truth that the author tried to communicate. Now, why don't we simply read about truth, I mean, what's wrong with reading just newspapers? Because, evolutionary, we've been designed to seek out and solve puzzles. To survive. It's in our DNA. It's how we escaped the prehistoric tigers. We'd scan the tall grasses around us and spot their stripes. We LOVE doing this shit. Why do you think there are plot twists and character arcs and hidden meanings in stories? It's for us, readers, to discover, to guess at, to feel elated and shout, "I knew it, I got it, I guessed it right!" So that's the truth behind the fiction, it's that striped tiger that we need to uncover. 

If you can't bare your soul in public, why write? Ah, we came full circle. Isn't baring the soul supposed to be baring the truth? Yes. But then isn't a story supposed to be striped truth hidden in glittery fiction? Yes. Then why bare the soul? Because we need to practice doing both. It's a 2 way act. You strip, you cover, you strip, you cover. So, essentially, the reason why I said "If you can't bare your soul in public, why write?" is because you need to be able to do both, get naked, and then get dressed, to let others unravel what's underneath. And the problem with a lot of bad writing is that it attempts to dress up a feeling without making it naked first. And we as readers feel it being fake, we can see it a mile away, and we cringe, because deep inside we can't connect with a story like that. It reeks of lies to us, and so we scratch out heads, puzzled. Why doesn't it work? It's great fiction. All the elements are there. Why doesn't it touch me? Beautiful sentences? Check. Well developed characters? Check. Fantastic twisted plot? Check. Then what's wrong? Why is 50 Shades of Grey selling, why is Twilight so popular, and why isn't anyone buying my books?!? Because, dear writer, you forgot to get naked first. Because we as readers will forgive your fiction being sloppy if the truth underneath it shines true. Hence, my statement.

Enough truth and fiction and soul-baring in public for you? Good. What do you think on the subject? Come on, share your views. No naked pictures, please. We accept only fully clothed comments. Thank you.

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