Writing takes courage. You always have to push yourself past the taboos you carry inside about what is okay to say, and who will take offense. Otherwise you are only telling half the story. I remember how clear this was to me many years ago when I read an best selling memoir by Geneen Roth, “When Food is Love.” She wrote that her mother was upset by some of the things she said and I thought to myself, Wow, that takes guts to be so honest. And her book really affected me.
Recently I read “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie so I could experience it though my own imagination (I often try to read the book first because otherwise it’s the film maker’s interpretation). Though it was called a novel, like many novels, it has a lot of truth in it…and a lot of things that could offend alot of people. She talked about that in the Afterward, and I cried at the courage of the author. It looks to me like her character of Skeeter the writer expresses the fear I felt when I was writing “The Woman in the Photograph,” not even the intimate stuff about myself but exposing my mother and my relatives. I had to trust my intention. My intention was, and is, love and respect.
If you want to write something that moves people, you need to be a seeker of truth. You need to push the limit, be willing to offend, be willing to affect, and stretch yourself and your readers. It’s as true when you write for a class, or for yourself in your journal. Writing is an opportunity to change, to expand, to heal.
My own book is on its journey. It has not found its publishing home yet, but each day I get enthusiastic and encouraging responses from early readers. I wept over my computer while I wrote “The Woman in the Photograph.” I have been afraid as I opened my heart to find the truth about my legacy.
Are you a seeker of truth? Write to us.