Where Do You Find Authenticity?

I often suggest that one reason to blog is to discover what you really feel about something. The act of writing helps us sift through ideas and bring them into focus. With any luck we end up with work that says something about who we are and what we think.

But of course we are bombarded with messages, both written and spoken, everyday which fill our heads and makes it hard to think.

The question I would like to pose is, at the end of that process, does writing reflect some essence of true self or do we sift and sort but end up writing a pastiche of what we consume?

The thought was prompted by my husband’s reaction to a fun piece I wrote about going on holiday. To him it sounded like some rant from a right-wing newspaper. To me it was a bit of fun. Was I unconsciously adopting the tone of the Daily Mail columnist to make the piece funnier or am I deep down closer to that stereotype than I thought? (Help)

I was thinking this through at the same time as reading the excellent novel “The Other Hand” by Chris Cleave which makes the opposite point. In the book one of the central characters, a journalist and columnist for The Times, realises that he can never live up to the lofty ideals he espouses in his copy. He thinks of himself as an outspoken crusader for justice but the reality turns out to be somewhat different.

The contradiction is exposed in the most dramatic fashion on a beach in Nigeria and the rest of the novel explores what it might mean to be authentic and true to ourselves.    

Those of us who write must imagine ourselves in all sorts of situations, many we have never been in. You have to try to see life through a thousand different lenses. Whether novelist or copywriter you have to put yourself into the minds of others to produce your best work. Yet that must be believable and authentic. 

So where is the truth? In the imagining, in the writing or in the actions we take in the real world?

It’s certainly something to think about.


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