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The Authenticity of Writing

writeThere are a few career choices as authentic as that of a writer. It requires a passion that is fueled almost entirely from one’s own internal motivation. In the early years – that period when development occurs, when style emerges, when genre is chosen – the writer operates with little feedback and with almost no social validation. Writing is not a career that appears to have substance to the non-writer. Parents do not often rally behind their child’s desire to be the next Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Perhaps some do from time to time, but not in the same way they might support other pursuits.

Consider a child who has a passion for helping others. They might select the field of medicine or pursue social work. These passions are connected to areas with specific training that lead to specific job titles. Even an aptitude for number counting can mean a respectable career in accounting or finance. Consider the natural athlete or musician. Regardless of the statistics against fame, parents will supply the instruments, the lessons, the rehearsal, the recitals and spend countless weekends at youth sporting events. The child who wishes to be a fiction writer however is often coached to select some other way to “make a living.”  They are guided, with the best intentions, to find a more legitimate source of income for their writing passion – such as journalism or teaching. I’ve seen children spend thirteen years playing a sport for thirty hours a week in pursuit of a passion for sports,  while committed and gleeful parents watch at full attention. I’ve seen children labor over homework, science books and resume building for a future place in Med School while pushed, supported and  perhaps even pursued by their parents throughout the journey. A child with a love for fiction writing has few trophies for validation and receives only slightly weary nods to support their dreams.

Yet those with this passion to tell a story seldom lose that desire.

Writing is authentic. It requires a form of perfection before we experience the cheering crowds and at times it requires public validation before parental pride. It’s authentic because regardless of support or accolades the writer continues to write in his journal and she continues to pen her little fabricated worlds. Writers continue their search for the perfect combination of words to express the life themes they see and wish to examine and to have others examine. A new baseball player can feel the social validation each time he gets in the batter’s box, each time her glove finds the ball, each time they touch a base. The would-be doctor can sense her future with each A on a science exam and each time her parents proudly announce – “yes, she is very smart and plans to attend Med School.” The would-be writer has fewer places for validation. An English assignment here and there, perhaps a writing contest where only one or two people will ever know what the “readers” thoughts on their labor of love.

But writing comes from an authentic place – the absence of these things seldom extinguishes the desire to tell the story.

There is no Hollywood or Bollywood for the would-be novelist. No place to travel where we can be surrounded by others working on this particular dream. No opportunity to “try out” for a best-seller. The place the writer returns to is the very place where the passion began – we return to our imagination. Inside our minds and hearts with that creative voice – our internal muse – who keeps us company, who inspires, who urges us to write again and again.

Perhaps today though there is a place for us. Perhaps we have our own – be it virtual – Hollywood. Perhaps that place is right here in the blog-a-sphere. A community of like-minded folks reaching others solely through the written word. A place to follow and be followed. A place for try-outs, for ideas, for suggestions. A place less focused on “making money” and more focused on the art of what we so passionately pursue. Here there may not be the roar of the crowd when we hit a home run. Proud families may not hoist us upon their shoulders for our truthful words and there are no roses for our brilliant performances. Here there is only the silent validation of a “like” button. Here there is only the satisfaction of a report card that reads, “Congratulations X number of people are following your words.” It may not be the same as an acceptance letter to Med school or a million dollar Major League contract. It may not be a role in an upcoming blockbuster – but for the writer, it is more than they have had and it is enough to make the time worth while.

Writing is an authentic career. It comes from someplace deep within, someplace honest, someplace where the truths of the real world are examined in journeys through fictitious ones. The writer has their own trophies of the pursuit. There are no “game” balls here and no shiny golden statues. Instead we have stacks of old notebooks and journals, we have expended pens, and our cascade of Word files. Those things are enough. They create their own type of pride. They are a testament to our improvement and to our tenacity.

Writing is an authentic career. The passion exists even when the source cannot be located. It is knowing that we will always speak in the writer’s voice even when we believe that no one is listening.

8 replies »

  1. I was lucky enough when I was younger to have very supportive parents who encouraged my writing, although sometimes my dad wished I would write about my own experiences more than serial killers and demons. There were no writing workshops near me that I could take, and I was mostly self-taught. Considering that my first serious workshops were in my second year of college, it’s a wonder I was published before then.
    Now that I’ve had a little more training, things are taking off for me, and I’m getting that validation. But still, it started with a passion and a dream and some small encouragement. I try to keep that in mind as I write.

  2. I was touched and blessed by this blog post. The writing was very, very good and in my mind it conveyed something that is very needed by writers: hope. It can be difficult to go it alone. In the long stretch before any sort of convincing positive feedback comes, it’s easy to think that one is wasting his time, though it doesn’t seem that he can stop wasting it in this particular way. That is pretty much where I’m at, so I appreciated the blog quite a bit. Thanks.

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