Learning to be vulnerable in my writing
I’ve always struggled with opening up in my writing. I could blame some of that on technical writing, which is fairly impersonal, but the honest truth is I’ve always been a fairly closed person. Growing up in the situation I grew up in required keep things close to the vest and while, in some ways, I can be very open, there’s a certain amount of emotional depth I’ve kept out of my writing and really all other pursuits as well.
But I think if I’m going to find my voice I have to be willing to go that to that depth, both in my fiction and my nonfiction. So here I am trying just that by admitting how hard it is to open up and be vulnerable.
I’ve kept myself closed because I learned early on that if you left yourself open people would take advantage of you, hurt you, and otherwise stomp all over you. Keeping things to myself guaranteed that couldn’t happen, but its also made it harder to connect with people.
So my greatest challenge in writing to an audience is finding the words to let them in and allow them to see not just the writer, but the person behind the writing. Recently I shared a novel I wrote with friends and when I shared some of what went into that novel, from an emotional perspective, they helped me realize how I was distancing myself and my readers through that writing. I wasn’t letting the characters or myself truly feel the writing. So I opted to do something different and truly speak to the experience from the character’s perspective. It was…hard, because it meant letting myself feel what that character was feeling as well, meant opening myself to my audience and that character. Yet there was the depth and connection that had been missing.
I feel this applies to nonfiction as well. And for that matter my spirituality (which I write about). I’ve been steadily shifting my spiritual work to more of an experiential model and I’ve been trying to make that part of the non-fiction as well. When I can feel it, make it into an experience that is embodied, then it has a reality to it that speaks as much to my audience as it does to the writing. My approach to resolving this matter is to slowly but surely keep opening up as I can in both non-fiction and fiction writing in a way that brings people in and allows them to have the experience instead of just abstractly perceive it. It’ll take some work, and I’ll admit I feel frustrated with it sometimes, but its one of the ways forward for me as a writer and a human being.