Thursday, August 16, 2012

Honesty is a Tough Policy

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemingway, I understand this statement more than ever.

Something that writing is teaching me is that honesty is a hard thing to do in your writing. Especially when writing from real events with real people who can be hurt or angered or when your emotions are completely invested in a situation about which you are writing.

Writing's call for honesty hit me more recently - but more so tonight. Feeling I was going to have a long night, I thought maybe I'll sit up and write out my feelings. I'm able to admit it all to myself - these emotions that crop up during certain times. Time to deal...

But...then it seems so very real when it's right in front of you. Then you really do have to deal...and what happens when you don't know what to do beyond the initial realization? In my head, I can forget anything I've realized once I get enough distractions, but having it outside of me makes it more.

And more is what I don't know what to do with. I just prefer not to bleed to death. Am I an island on this one?


  1. No you are not an island; you are a continent filled with people just like you.
    I am an essayist, I write honestly, without apology. Having said that, do I embarrass the people I love, I try not to, do I write about friends who have done terrible things, yes, but I learned how to do it skillfully so they do not see themselves reflected in the acid pool.
    Writing about what makes you feel good, creates a decent essay, what makes you mad, gets attention, writing about that which makes you feel uncomfortable, makes it great. When you can write about what you only whisper in the dark, you are brave. I chose bravery once; it opened the writing door twenty-five years ago. To choose bravery again I have to wait until someone dies, not because I do not want to embarrass him, it is because I do not want to hear him say I lied.

  2. "When you write about what you can only whisper in the dark..." Wow, yes, that's it. And I've been thinking that writing itself puts you out there to begin with, so it's only one more step to really putting my "dark" feelings out there.

    I read "The Color of Water," by James McBride, at the beginning of the summer and what I loved about it was how honest/open he seemed about his family members and friends. Some of them were bad people, he made them seem very real, but you never hated any of them. Same with himself.

    I would love to read some of your essays. Is there a link on your blog to any of them?

  3. Hey Jennine,
    I have a few recent pieces on one of LHJ's on-line componets, Divine Caroline. One of them is journalistic. The link is listed on my blog with links. If the blog-link doesn't work, type Carolynn Pianta in search-box on the website.

  4. I read them! I love the one about Quiet Yelling...I am very much the teller in the family. I used to routinely "clean out" my kids' stuff right before Christmas because I knew grandma was going to fill it right back up. Haven't done that for awhile, probably should. I find it telling and amazing both that your girls never missed those toys! And the reason Becky saved the plane...says something about teaching kids the value of work. Loved it.

    By the way, I tried to comment on the actual article, but the site wouldn't let me :/