Become a Fan
"Perhaps you're a little like me. Afraid that what you say will hurt or offend someone. Take them packing to their room. Keep them locked up inside it for the next hundred years. Perhaps they'll scream at you. Tell you that you have a cold heart and have no sympathy for privacy. But then again..."
Some people speak of brevity like a well-worn hat. If you want to write right you must make it short, simple, and very, very clear. I can do that. What I struggle with is length. Like a beard that never grows I am continually cutting off the words, cutting of my thoughts, (hey, let him think for a change) or stopping the glorious description before the reader even has a handle on it.
I can’t explain it. But perhaps I am afraid of something. Like spilling my guts. Opening my heart. Revealing my weakness.
Ohh…that has to be it. I can be brilliant, smart and newsworthy without having to be naked. Besides, who wants to be naked in front of the entire world?
Not me surely. Probably not even you unless you are one of those long coat wearers.
How does a person do it? Bare their souls, I mean? How do they write what is in their heart without needing a new name?
You’re heard the stories. “Is that me in your book?” You say, “Of course not.” But it is, it is! “Did your brother really throw that rock at Donny Rembler?” Yes, you reply. “Your mother says he was a creep and not the nice little kid like you make him out to be. She says she doesn’t remember him that way at all. Did you say the piece was non-fiction?”
I don’t know what it is about comments like that, but they make you want to close up as if you’ve never been born. Go into hiding. Report stuff without any heart.
And then it hits you. Maybe it’s a rock, but you are stunned at the revelation. “Writing from the Heart,” takes guts. It is exploratory surgery. And in case you forgot, the most profound way I know of in getting your readers to like your stuff. Why? Because they not only relate to it, they feel it.
I have been reading a most terrific ‘feeling’ book called, “Writing from the Heart,” by Nancy Slonim Aronie. On page 101 she says, “Why not start to feel it, and why not continue to heal it, why not sit down and write it, and –what the heck—why not get out there and sell it?”
Perhaps you’re a little like me. Afraid that what you say will hurt or offend someone. Take them packing to their room. Keep them locked up inside it for the next hundred years. Perhaps they’ll scream at you. Tell you that you have a cold heart and have no sympathy for privacy. But then again…
Perhaps not. How will you know if you don’t write it down? I mean, if they are offended what’s the worst thing that can happen? A fat lip? The silent treatment? Words of writing advice?
Don’t mistake me. I don’t believe writing from the heart entails callousness. I don’t believe it means forgetting someone’s feelings, or leaving “the divorce” out of your story simply because you believe the person will get hurt. What I do think it means is putting your smart brains to work.
If the story is really about your sister, change the sister’s name. Mix her story with the story of your best friend who has also divorced. But get the story on paper. If you feel you need to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, don’t be afraid to write it.
I read a book once (the name of the author escapes me now) about a woman’s alcoholic son. The writer held on to the story for years, never feeling like the time was right to send it out. She loved her son much more than she wanted publication, but it was still the right time to get her feelings on paper. Why? Because it helped her to heal.
Years later, when her son was grown and he’d changed his life for the better, she sold the piece with her heart felt feelings and his open permission.
Sometimes time really is “of the essence.” Sometimes it makes sense to store your story. To read it over and over within the privacy of your very own room with the door shut.
But if you are wise, you will know when to open the door. You will know when to get the story about your granddad’s death ready for the general population. You will know because your heart will tell you, just like it told you the first time, when you sat down for open-heart surgery in front of your home computer.
*"The Heart's Voice" was published in NAWW--The National Association of Women Writers.