This guest post is by Carol White Llewellyn of Family, by Choice.
On July 7, Going Gonzo, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Blog, by Enzo F. Cesario, struck a chord with me.His post reminded me of a creative writing course I took with the indomitable Dr. Abraham Rothberg, who passed away earlier this year. Dr. Rothberg was a wise man who advised, “when you write well, you’ll know it. You’ll feel more naked than if you walked nude down Fifth Avenue in New York City.” The Bronx native went on to assert that few New Yorkers would even notice. I’d add that writing well is really more like dancing naked down the street. When you do that, people do notice.
Cesario speaks about the importance of writing honestly … writing uncensored … writing naked. I admit that I have a hard time doing this. It’s only in rare and unguarded moments that my writing dances naked. But I always feel it when it happens.
Sometimes writing naked means voicing criticism. For those of us indoctrinated with the adage “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” criticism may never become integral to our writing. I like to think that’s okay. I can’t help but feel that if one writer doesn’t feel comfortable in critique mode, there’s probably all too many who relish it.
Sometimes it means sharing personal information and feelings. Like mine, your family mantra may scream, “It’s nobody else’s business what happens in our family.” To write “the truest sentence you know,” as Ernest Hemingway always advised, you have to overcome this.
Often, it means breaching your own privacy. I had my online identity stolen a year ago by hacks trying to scam funds from friends and followers, so I fear opening myself to more of the same. Jump the fear.
As for editing, sorry Enzo, I disagree. Less is more. It polishes the diamond. There was one adoption post on my blog, Family, by Choice that I rewrote three times before I felt okay to share it.
There are some topics, and some posts, that lend themselves more to openness. It’s the very rare writer whose words are an open door to their soul. At best, most good writers have to be satisfied with a swinging door.
Be prepared for the sting. You can’t dance naked without running into some hornets. The very first post I wrote on adoption was slammed by an anti-adoption advocate. She’d been adopted by an abusive family and she was vehemently opposed to the institution. After I got over the shock, I was delighted that she’d taken the time to write. I invited her to offer a counter-view. She didn’t. At least I knew the post hadn’t been met with apathy.
All you can do, day after day, week after week, is put yourself out there, warts and all. And on occasion, when the weather’s right and there’s a song in your esprit, your words will dance naked down the street. You’ll be surprised how many will notice.
Does your writing dance naked down the street?
Carol White Llewellyn writes the blog Family, by Choice for which she also produces a cable and online TV program, and The Finger Lakes Travel Maven (travelmaven.wordpress.com), which incorporates occasional video and for which she has begun producing cable TV specials.