The key ingredient to writing honestly

by Ksenia Anske

I'm starting a series of blog posts by guest authors. Please welcome Rachel Thompson, author of The Mancode: Exposed and A Walk in the Snark.


I’m in flux, swimming upstream while the water pulls me down.

Fighting the emptiness, searching for one blessed respite in this barrage of ragged emotion.

I feel in my heart, our future lies in wait.

I give myself permission to be free.

Sometimes people aren’t sure about what to write.

But I don’t know if that’s really true.

They may know what they want to write about, feel a story building in their head, but many times close themselves off to the idea for fear of hurting others. They haven’t let go of those invisible barriers that prevents them from really digging in or letting go.

Such is the life of a writer.

People often tell me they enjoy my writing because I write about topics most people shy away from: love, desire, grief, loss, and abuse being just a few.

I write both fiction and nonfiction (and have published both), but my heart lies with nonfiction. Why? I suppose it started from my love of journaling when I was younger, and blogging as I grew older. Plus, the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction…

In my new book, Broken Pieces (out this fall), I discuss a number of uncomfortable subjects. Why? Well, not because I want you to care about my navel lint. It’s because I care about you; because other men and women may have experienced what I have but are afraid or ashamed; because it’s what I do.

I’m obsessed with stories about people, particularly relationships. That dynamic is always present across all books I write.

Amongst the humorous stories in my first book, I also share the shock and grief I felt when an ex I truly loved deeply in my twenties, committed suicide in A Walk In The Snark. While A Mancode: Exposed is all humor, I do share questions and observations about marriage. And in my new book, I discuss being molested as a ten-year-old girl by a neighbor (for the queasy, I don’t go into an insane amount of detail; though, I don’t gloss over it, either), along with other difficult experiences.

(Broken Pieces is not humor, if you’re wondering.)

One of my favorite writing quotes comes from author Lorrie Moore, who says:

Write something you’d never show your mother or father.

I love that quote, and it’s my mantra.

Drawing on my stories is not difficult for me because I’m comfortable delving into my heart. Writing about universal topics or ‘truths’ helps me tap into emotions we all feel. Sometimes people love it; sometimes they hate it. Making people uncomfortable is a wonderful way to create emotion in your reader.

Positive or negative emotions that you create in a reader is a win. As someone who has been there, my advice to any writer afraid to share their work is this: someone will invariably hate what you write. Oh well. Get over it.

I don’t write with the reader in mind. If I did, I wouldn’t be allowing myself to touch or explore plaintive feelings I want the reader to feel. Oftentimes, I simply close my eyes and type through the emotions. I love the spontaneity of what comes from deep inside.

If your goal is to write with honesty, do this: write about any topic you want. You are an adult. It’s your decision.

The only permission you need to write about anything comes from you.

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