The Naked Writer

It’s easier for nonfiction writers to bare it all.  Fiction requires a certain depth, but it isn’t necessary to bare everything.  We set boundaries and limits as to how naked or “real” we are going to be with people.  Writing is not a career field where inhibitions are beneficial.  If anything they can be a detriment.

Writers notoriously cross those taboo lines that many think about, some wish they could muster the courage to break loose, but writers crash through the barriers with zeal.  Nonfiction writers can easily cross those lines, daring to confront the norms, and bring to light the gut wrenching trauma that has kept the taboo in the dark while making us examine the truth.  Humor is a good way to take the edge off of a bitter subject, but sometime humor is a distasteful way to handle a subject.

My publications to date have been in the nonfiction category.  Current topics were often the fodder for my bare naked writing pieces, expressing my opinion which often ran contrary to the popular crowd.  Controversial only in the fact that the readers with who my opinion differed felt it necessary to comment upon.  In the newspaper market, this is very good because reader response is one way to judge your reader base.  Other pieces such as my humor articles were the sort of naked writing where I bare absolutely everything, especially the fact that my life is like a Carol Burnett rerun.  Those awkward moments that you read about?  Yeah, I lived them.  I learned to laugh them off ages ago, even while I turn red of embarrassment.

There are times when I share stories of my own childhood, or my children’s childhood that captivate my audience.  In the retelling, they are funny. Mainly because I actually lived through it, but after the fact you can look and see the humor in it.  Humor is of course a special talent.

One of my idols in writing is Elaine Viets, a former columnist from St. Louis, Missouri.  She currently writes murder mysteries and lives in Florida.  Elaine is a natural story-teller.  She takes the mundane and makes it funny.  St. Louis- isms were a mainstay of her column, and everyone could laugh because we related, knowing that what she said is essentially true.  The Coral Courts motel.  Where did you go to School? The concrete lawn. The St. Louis stop.  they were hysterical because we knew the truth in the words she shared.  This same iconic humor carries through in her mystery books as well.

How does a fiction writer get naked and bare it all?  No, I’m not actually talking about writing without my clothes on.  If you write that way, go for it. I’m talking about getting real, baring your soul, allowing the world to see your vulnerability and deep wells without overexposing and making it all about you.

This is my blog and it is essentially about me, my feelings, my thoughts, and my dreams.  However, my objective is to make it something that the reader will enjoy,or learn from, or at least find interesting.  If we lived in a vacuum, where life was idealistic everything would work out just as we have it planned but that’s never the case.

Life happens!   Bad things happen.  Funny things happen, and amazing things happen.  This is what we live, and breathe.  My story really isn’t all that different from others.  We all have a few unique quirks or skeletons in our closets, it’s what makes us who we are.  But a writer can take the facts and shape it into a story, take the same raw material that someone else has at their disposal (our backgrounds, experiences, dreams and hopes) and weave a magical tale that has the listener or reader enthralled.

Creative license of the writer’s mind allows us to take our raw materials, or scraps sometimes and make it into something.  It’s an art form the same way that taking leftovers from the fridge and making a meal is art.  Sometimes it works and sometimes you know you’re having leftovers.  Even Michelangelo trashed some of his work.

A naked writer bares their soul, their vulnerabilities, their moral fiber in the tales they weave.  Maya Angelou lets us see the beauty within her soul.  Stephen King has mastered the macabre, revealing the things he finds terrifying. Arthur C. Clark exploits our fears and inner turmoil while offering a voice of impending doom in Childhood’s End.

Baring your soul is sometimes easier that baring your body.  There’s the whole self-conscious thing, the extra pounds, the less than perfect physique and then there’s the age thing.  Regardless of physical appearance, the human body is beautiful.  Sometimes our bodies also provide humor!  If you came here for naked pictures sorry, I’m not going there!  I’ll bare my heart and my soul, but the rest remains private.

Let’s get naked in our writing though, naked in the sense of laying it on the line.  Getting real and honest with what we put on the paper.  There’s a big difference between the stuff that flows from your head, and the parts that pass through your heart and the gut wrenching pain of our lives.  Those are the pages that bring the greatest satisfaction, and the best response.

Time to write!