Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writer's Wednesday- Connection

In writing circles there is a lot of talk about connecting.... with the reader.
Forget that.
Forget it.

Want a book that stays with your reader?
If you want to write something that a reader won't be able to put down forget trying to connect with the reader and (wait for it...) connect with YOU.

We admire the writer who can show us something about our own humanity because they have shown us something about theirs. One of the primary reasons I put down a book has nothing to do with plot, voice, style or even genre (I have been know to read anything, even the cheerios box). 

I put down books when I sense that the author has not said what they truly wanted to say. In short, they have not connected with themselves. Or worse, they have, and then they ignored the connection.

Then consider this:
"There are very few "writing problems," as such; only human ones. A lot of what we take to be writing problems are really courage problems, problems about being honest, problems confronting others and confronting ourselves."~ Ralph Keyes.

You have to get honest about your own humanity. 
It's your job to find out what makes your skin itch and your brain tick. The most uncomfortable truth about you and your life THAT is what the reader wants insight into. 

Readers want you to put into words what it means to be human. They want you to share the human experience through your characters. That kind of writing ONLY comes from self connection.
Put that kind of honesty into your writing and you can't help but connect with the reader. 
Because we instinctively know when someone is being real and when they are full of ....well, you put your own word in there :)

It's Scary.
Don't say I didn't warn you :)
But then we are writers, not worm farmers. The writing life is suppose to freak you out :)
To share the intimacy you have found with yourself with a reader is TERRIFYING.
And yet, you must. 
All other writing is candy floss and fireworks. 

Too real?
Yup. It is. It is too real. THAT realness is what makes for mind blowing fiction.
I dare you, I double dare you to front up to yourself and establish the truth of who you are. Then write.

"E.B White thought that the writer's key problem was to establish communication with himself.. if a writer has been communicating with a reader, I think it is simply because he has been trying (with some success) to get in touch with himself." ~ Ralph Keyes.

What about you? Agree? Disagree? Connected?


  1. Excellent post! I totally agree. In fact, maybe that was part of the problem with the story I posted about....hmmm.
    Good things to think about this morning regarding my own writing. :-)

  2. You nailed it Tab. But it is a very hard thing to do. We can't deny any of the painful or uncomfortable parts of life. We need to plumb them in order to reach the truth in our writing. Easily said...I'm struggling to do it.

  3. I can't stop thinking about a line in On Writing where King says he's all of his characters. I think in order to write strong and believable characters we need to be in tune with our weaknesses and fallability and yuck. There's a way to write it into characters and if you write nonfiction there's a way to put it on the page so it doesn't read like throw up, but rather a mosaic of truth.
    ~ Wendy

  4. This post is so right on, Tab. And it is difficult - hard to get in touch with what is going on inside ourselves and harder still to share that. Over the years, I've grown more comfortable baring my soul and not worrying about what others will think. While writing my memoir, though, it was excruciating. But honesty is what I look for when reading other books, and if it's not there, I'll close the darn thing. Thanks for this.

  5. You're absolutely right. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. When I think of books that really stick with me, they have that honesty.

  6. This post was beyond excellent! Yes & I'm looking for that realness that you have double dared.

  7. Great, swallow-this-pill post. Honest and ever-so true.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  8. Excellent post! I do believe good writing ia always a battle with ourselves to go deeper. There's a universal quality to the soul's struggles, so when we find truth, it's often with a capital T.

  9. Great post! I totally agree. I read on someone else's blog that some of the feedback she got on her writing was that it was too safe. I think this is exactly what he meant.

  10. This is one of the best articles I've read about writing. I've read lots of books: Bird By Bird, Writing Down the Bones, Writing in Restaurants, etc., but this is succinctly useful.

    I'm just afraid my honesty might be whiny.

  11. Oh, yes, I agree. Two who come to mind immediately are Jeannette Walls and Mary DeMuth. Their honesty forces me to examine my own heart, and I need that, painful though it is.

    You are brilliant. But I bet you already knew that.

  12. I try not to hold back when I write, BUT I do find myself thinking, 'oh my gosh what if so and so reads this. What will they think of me?" It can stop up the process pretty quickly and my work starts to sound like cardboard. I have to tell myself this isn't about me, it's about the writing.

  13. Tabitha,
    I completely agree. To connect with someone we must first put ourselves into our work and that means opening up that vein, putting every muscle and bit of our fiber into our characters to enable them to connect us to the reader.
    Well written.
    Thanks! This one I needed to hear.
    Blessings, Barb
    Writing: the ups and downs

  14. All I can say is that this is another one of your posts that I am going to have to reread and digest slowly, because my initial reaction is What The Crap!!! I'm feeling all pins and needles and don't want to read it again, but I know I will...I must...

    Does that answer your question?

  15. This is so true! The Velveteen Rabbit still makes me weep.

  16. Tabitha, I think what you're writing here is so true. It's all about exposing yourself and getting down to that deeper level.

  17. Educational and informative for me.
    Thank you.

  18. I find that with some blogs. The only ones that really work for me are those where the writer is prepared to open up and reveal themselves.

    I find it hard not to be connected, sometimes too much so!

  19. Wonderful post and I totally agree. BEing authentic is difficult to do. The reader can sense if you take them down a path and it is cut short, that you are uncomfortable giving them what they wanted. Be real, write what you know...goes places~

  20. Tabitha, I'm tucking this away inside my heart for future bursts of fear and creativity. I saved a couple of these quotes. This is SPOT ON correct. Thank you for putting it into words. We're not worm farmers - ha ha.

  21. Absolutely, hands down, the best advice you've given yet! The thing I always try to remember is that no one is reading it when I'm writing it. That makes it a little easier to just let go and write. Whether I choose to publish/try to get it published or not is then completely up to me. But it is only the fear of being "seen" that would ever stop me. I am just the Author, my imagination is what prompted the character to say what it did but the voice, point of view, well that's all theirs. Remembering that keeps my fear of connecting in check.

    Thanks for this!

  22. Yes -- IF that self has been awake an aware, has been authentic and dared to feel and do and see. If it is an individual self, not a wannabe self glomming onto whatever is going around. There are fascinating selves, there are boring selves and there are dishonest selves. The reader is looking for honesty and uniqueness, not whatever is going round today that the writer thinks is clever or cute or profound. For the reader to want to make love to you, you have to take your clothes off.

  23. I AGREE! (Sorry for the yelling. I got excited for a minute.)

    Yeah. Write your guts out. It'll show on the page.

  24. true

    when i realized that a writer is supposed to that much honest about his own self....i simply gave up writing formally and found a hidden slot in poetry...and eventually found it it exaggerated,,,now i end up with with what i really want whatever i think i just share even with those who do not want to listen

  25. Thank you.

    Being real is the biggest challenge. Vulnerability is the operative word.

    Loved everyone's comments, too!

  26. It has been months since I have touched a keyboard in a rhythmic fashion. Somehow I stumbled upon your blog, and luckily so. Your words gave me so much inspiration and courage. I am back.