I write at an old oak desk, positioned close to an open window, lift my gaze briefly from the screen to savour a soothing sea breeze and quay-side view.
Air is rich with birdsong and sweet fragrance pouring forth from a nearby arbour of flowers. Butterflies flit like my thoughts, alighting on something bright and fresh. Cut! That's pure fabrication, of course. Here's the reality...
Or should I share? Aren't we aiming to inspire one another with our words, rather than discourage with life's gritty reality? After all, what's a bit of softened lens viewing between friends? It helps us to imagine ourselves in a more salubrious place, a better pair of shoes. It fits us to enjoy flights of fancy without leaving the house, and suggests a lifestyle others can aspire to.
Hang on a minute, do I hear you say, isn't this taking creativity a tad too far? Well yes, so it is. I am a writer, after all. But here's the thing: being open, real, transparent and honest actually helps to foster trust and build connection—in real life and in the writing sphere.
How about poetry that emotes with feeling, more than languidly describing a beautiful scene? It tends to glean the most responsive reactions, engenders those 'you too?' moments we all secretly yearn for.
Hanging out our proverbial dirty laundry in public is often frowned upon, because life can be hard enough without someone else's mess flapping in our faces.
Who needs a fresh dose of daily grime when TV and media already offer more than their fair share? And can we cope with a person's heart bleeding out on paper?
Such things nudge us out of our comfort zones, stir and provoke us into action, into caring, or maybe turning away. I've found in sharing personal story with transparency and vulnerability (laced with lots of God-given wisdom, sensitivity and discernment), we can make a better heart to heart connection with our readers.
It's still a risk to speak openly about our brokenness. Some might seek a more uplifting tidbit elsewhere. And others? They will stay—hooked by our reality, seeing themselves within our stories, find they resonate deep within their soul.
My writing reality is less than exquisite. It's a delving into depths to mine nuggets, capturing whatever rises to the surface, whether it's a trickle or a flow. It's a weakened body bent over a PC with stiff, arthritic spine, painful fingers typing slowly, sore eyes hypersensitive to a bright screen. I know... the sacrifices for one's art.
There's no scenic view either. Sorry to disappoint you. But here's what I do have in abundance: grace upon grace, inspiration, transparency, God sustaining and equipping me to write regularly and to support and encourage other writers with their work.
My gritty reality is a life of chronic illness, pain and challenging circumstances.
But oh how full it is of the reality of God's support, comfort and reassuring presence!
We can't always alter or escape life's painful things, but they help shape who we become and enrich the hopeful truth we share.
If you stick around long enough and read between the lines of my work, you'll be able to trace God's loving hand on my life.
And it's the realest reality of them all, true for me and true for you too. It oozes out of every line we write.
How do you feel about sharing openly? Does the genre you write in affect your choices?
Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer,
poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking
Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'.
She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at
her blogs wordsofjoy.me
as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in
the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter