Au-then-tic: not false or copied; genuine
I heard an interview with Taylor Swift, and the questioner asked how she came up with ideas for her songs. Swift said, "I go to high school and write about it." And then she added, "And I try to write with authenticity."
Sounds so simple! Many of her songs chronicle high school angst, yet they resonate with people of all ages. It seems to me we could follow the breadcrumbs of her songs, and see what she was experiencing at the time it was written.
I don't have all the answers, but when I thought about what it meant to write with authenticity, here's what I came up with:
Be true to your writerly self
I'm amazed by the successes of fantasy and dystopian novels, but I doubt I'd ever write one. I marvel at the creativity involved in building a whole new world, and I'm impressed by those of you who write in those genres. I gravitate toward contemporary dramas, and know that that's where my authentic writerly self belongs. Not that I'd shy away from a different genre if I felt compelled to experiment with something new.
Your unique life experiences add value to your stories
I love the idea that only we can tell our stories. In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott tells how she handed out a writing assignment to each student, and even though the topic was the same, she received a different story from each student. We each view life differently and handle situations in ways that no one else can duplicate. I love how this transfers to our writing. No one else can authentically write exactly what we've written.
Tap in to genuine emotions
We've each felt love, fear, shame, happiness, pride, and embarrassment, and sometimes it's easier to bury the bad stuff and only remember the good. But if we dig deep, remember it all, and write about it, our work will shine with authenticity. At least that's what I'm hoping for.
David Morrell said, "You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, 'This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I'm doing the best I can--buy me or not--but this is who I am as a writer.'"
Tell me, what does writing with authenticity mean to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.