Sunday, February 2, 2014

Writing true

I'm reading Elizabeth Berg's book Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. (A book worthy of your bookshelf!) She encourages writers like me to be authentic and honest in our writing.

Writing true requires a writer to go deep beneath the surface feelings to the emotional core. It means using the senses to describe the details of the narrative, for it's in the details that our stories engage the reader and bring her into our minds so that she can see how we think, so she can get under our skin and feel what we feel, so she can touch our exposed vulnerability and become that vulnerability, if just for the time it takes to read our story.

To paraphrase another author, Red Smith, we only have to sit at the keyboard and open a vein.

Why would any writer want to do that? The answer is simple.  Writers like Elizabeth Berg, like Red Smith, like memoirists and storytellers like me--we are driven to write because we want to share in the collective human experience. By writing true, we yield pieces of ourselves in the pieces we write, and we connect with people we may never meet in the most profound and intimate way.

Not a bad deal, if you ask me.