Friday, October 17, 2008

Do You Wear Masks When You Write?


Do you wear masks when you write? Do you ever put things down on the page that you think you should say because your church or your friends or even your publisher thinks that way? Things that represent how you think you should think or be or what you should do? Do the words stare back and you and call you a ‘liar?’ If you don’t, I salute you.
More than once, I’ve found myself throwing out pages littered with clich├ęs and Christian lingo, words that really didn’t reflect what I thought or what I was trying to convey to my readers.
More times than I can count, I have had to leave my computer keyboard to sit with pen and paper in a quiet spot to replace meaningless platitudes with honest English. I have had to write out thoughts that shocked or confused me or revealed aspects of my thinking that needed examining.
Writing demands transparency. To say anything worthwhile we must be honest, with ourselves, with others, and with God. We must be willing to be uncomfortable and reach beyond “should be” to “what is”. To look at ourselves and the world as they truly are. We can’t wear our masks.
Taking off the masks helps connect us with our readers and with God. It allows us to write honestly about the human condition, which is certainly not all light and goodness.
Readers know when we gloss over what we think to make it palatable or politically correct. They know when we are trying to fit a mould; or trying contort ourselves into an image we think they want to see. And the result is boredom and a quick toss of our work in the garbage.
Take off the mask when you write.
Sit down with a pen and paper and see where your thoughts take you. See what inspiration awaits you. Pray about what you are meant to write, or think or do. And, above all, be honest. Your readers will thank you for it. And you will find God taking you on journeys you never knew were there.
Jane Harris Zsovan writes in both mainstream in Canadian publications about faith, business, arts, and contemporary Canada. She is the author of Stars Appearing: The Galts' Vision of Canada. She contributed "Jessie's Generation: Canada's Firebrands of Mercy and Justice" to Hot Apple Cider: Stories to Warm the Heart and Stir the Soul. Jane writes Vision of Canada Blog, on contemporary and historical Canada.

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