Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Honesty


"Write what you know." Of course as a novelist I'm often writing scenes that I have never experienced in my life. For example, in my June 2012 book NAVY RULES I have the hero emergency-landing a B-17. I've never landed any plane, much less a WWII bomber. But I have flown in a Navy plane or two, and I've been in an aircraft when it's had an emergency. I've felt the emotions of this situation. Even if I'd never served in the U.S. Navy myself, I know from commercial flights the fear and anxiety that severe turbulence or the smell of electrical fumes can trigger.
For me, honesty in my writing is being true to my characters. It's about not using cliched or transparent literary devices to "get" my reader to laugh or cry.
So it is with life. Living a life of honesty can be tough, especially in light of the constant media barrage of wars, politics, tough economic times. On a more personal level, honesty with family members is often the most difficult. Telling a teen that while they have straight A's you still don't trust them (or their underdeveloped brains) with a questionable group of "friends." Telling your spouse that you love them, and yes, you're happy but need to do something different to "shake things up," even if that something is merely getting a new 'do or tattoo. Telling your parent it's time to move out of the only home they've had for the past fifty years.
Writing and life dovetail for me in ways I never imagined when I started a serious path to publication. I find that as I learn to create and write down characters with more honesty, I'm learning to live that way in my own life, too. It's not easy but the results are worth it. Give me an old-fashioned homemade cookie over a stale, "pretty," store-bought, over-frosted concoction any day.

17 comments:

Rula Sinara said...

Beautiful post, Geri. I agree that honesty with family is often toughest to give, as well as take. It may be fiction, but both writing and reading (particularly Superromances bc of their realism) have helped me find the strength or ideas on how to cope with certain family 'honesty' situations because I know the story/characters come from the heart of a fellow writer. Both writing and reading can 'ring true' and be therapeutic.

liztalley said...

Very nice post, Geri. And I so agree. I really try to hard to make my characters real. In fact in my last scene written I had poor Mary Paige worrying about her Spanx showing beneath her skirt...mostly because I kept tugging my own skirt down at church last Sunday. LOL. The best characters are those drawn from real life.

Hmmmm....Maybe Brennan will have to catch her Spanx showing. That could be fun!

Honest and "realness" are the best qualities in real life or in fiction.

Virginia said...

Great post. I am one that would rather have anything homemade over top of store bought.

Kathy Altman said...

Geri, you are so right, being genuine is the way to go! I have such a hard time enjoying a book in which the author has tried to manipulate me into feeling a certain way. Manipulation always has negative results, in writing as well as in real life! Thank you so much for the reminder. And now I have this odd urge to bake chocolate chip cookies...

Geri Krotow said...

Thanks, Rula. I agree--writing this last book has been my toughest yet most rewarding time. We lost my father-in-law in early December and the bulk of the revision work was in front of me (now done, thanks in great part to an awesome editor). But the revisions were therapy for me--I was in an emotional place in my personal life and able to see more clearly if my characters were sincere or a bunch of, well, b.s.

Geri Krotow said...

Nice to see you here, Liz! I already admire Mary Paige for having the courage to wear Spanx--whenever I do I get a stomachache...hmm, maybe I need the next larger size? Too much honesty! I have to thank you Liz for your bookmark--I am using it to figure out how to get beads attached to mine (and not look like a 5 yr old did it).

Geri Krotow said...

I agree, Virginia. Since I'm always interested in the best ways to stay healthy (and lose some more lbs/kilos) I save my sweet calories for homemade or at least something with real butter!

Geri Krotow said...

Kathy, if you bake some cookies can I come over? I find honesty exhausting in writing, just as life. Yet it's the only way I've found to get to the joy in both. With a cookie or two.

Carol Anne Coughlin said...

Geri,
That was a Very Good Blog/Post that you wrote. Honesty is very hard sometimes even when you don't
want to hurt someones feelings. I haven't read any of your books yet but if you write them like you write your blogs I'm really missing out on something. Keep on writing girl!

Geri Krotow said...

Thanks, Carol! It's nice to hear that my blogs are somewhat coherent--we don't have editors for our blogs, lol.

Joan Kilby said...

Thought provoking post, Geri. Honesty *should* be easy in life and in writing. After all, we know what the truth is. Or do we? Sometimes we (and our characters) hide from the truth. Actually speaking it, putting it on the page can be difficult and painful. But honesty in life and in writing is powerful stuff.

Kaelee said...

Great blog. I think that honest emotions shine though in a story. In family situations honesty can sometimes be hidden by denial by some or all of the family members. It can also lead to a lot of conflict. It is the best way to go though.

erica said...

Love it. And, if I'm being honest with you, I know I would have eaten more of those beautiful cookies than I was supposed to--but sometimes life is too sweet to leave it on the table. enjoy. e

Snookie said...

what a great post! Honesty is everything in any relationship.

Laura Russell said...

Inspiring post, Geri. I do prefer those homemade cookies. And romances certainly help me sort out my own emotions.

marybelle said...

There's a lot to be said for being honest & it is not easy at times. Usually when you need to be the most honest.

Rogenna Brewer said...

Who we are is written into every page whether we mean for it to be or not.

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