One of the things I like most about writing, though, is that it feels like a platform for all of us to share honesty. Not just in being honest about ourselves (which is great, don't get me wrong). But also being honest about the human condition. When we write fiction honestly, I think, we are doing our very best, without contrivances, to say something about the way people feel or behave or think. And sometimes, appropriately, the words are not very pretty. Sometimes, like the subjects they reflect, the words are pitted and flawed. Even mysterious, if you'd like. I find that to be a lovely thing.
I remember, going through my adolescence, how often the serious lectures that I received were about art, rather than some disciplinary infraction, (and, I mean, there were those too, but they don't stick out in my brain, at least, as the majority.) I can remember so many times, sitting down across the table from one of my parents, my work, whether it be a watercolor, miniature or writing, sprawled helplessly on the wood, while they dissected it with their eyes. They were always kind (well, okay, let's be honest, my mum was always kind. My father was, well, honest.) and they knew what they were doing.
One of the most important things I ever learned about writing occurred during one of these rookie critiques. I was on the second draft of a short story I was writing, about a girl trapped in a caravan with a bunch of musical instruments. My father was reviewing it, and I could tell, from the way his jaw was set and the way he held the pencil, that I hadn't gotten it yet. He set the pencil down, and turned to me.
"When you are writing," he said, "You be sure to show people things. Be sure to say exactly what you mean. Like, look here, 'she grabbed her guitar,' what exactly does that mean? What did she do exactly to get that guitar to her? If it's on her back, did she yank the case forward? Did she unhook it from her shoulder?"
He went on like that, questioning me about every aspect of the world I was writing in, tiny microcosm that it was. He was manic, intense in a way that almost frightened me.
But since then, since that vital interrogation, I have become a different kind of writer. Not the best, but I am careful with my words. I handle them like fragile and powerful objects, to be used in only the best scenarios. I try to keep my words honest. I try to give them as much integrity as I can, and even then, I sometimes wonder.