Friday, May 18, 2012

The worst bad writing habit by Christa Allan

I'd started writing this blog post today about my bad writing habits. While I wasn't (unfortunately) at a loss for examples, I was at a loss for substance. And there it was. My baddest of the bad habits. Hiding behind my words. I'm  sharing what I wrote when I first wrestled with this truth. In its original form, it not only better conveys the experience, it reminds me to be me.


If I’m going to be honest about my dishonesty, then I must be honest that the idea for this post did not originate with me.
I started working with the savvy Beth Jusino, a freelance publishing consultant. She sent me an extensive questionnaire to answer prior to  creating my (astounding!)Book Marketing Plan. One of the challenges I shared with her was that I couldn’t get a handle on my website/blog, not the design of it, but the direction of it.
The resulting telephone conversation (loosely paraphrased) after I read the plan, went something like this:
Beth: How is it that you write novels where you’re not afraid to tackle tough issues, the emotions no one wants to own, but you sound like Pollyanna on your blog?
Me: I didn’t want to upset or offend anyone.
Beth:  I think that’s a blog post.
Am I intentionally hiding behind my fiction?
I don’t believe my blog should be a confessional for all my sins, a sales pitch for my books, or a dumping ground for minutiae. I doubt readers care to know my grocery list or the details of my dentist appointment.
But I did choose to be safe. To not discuss controversial topics or, if I did, leave my stance ambiguous. To not share much of what I wrestle with morally, both inside and outside of my writing. To not write more about places where my life intersects with my books.
Why? Because I feared being judged, being outcasted, being ridiculed. Because I wanted people to think, “That Christa writes about some real issues, but she’s such a nice person.”
In writing this, I remembered a widget, years earlier, that kept a real time count of abortions in the United States. After copying the code into my blog, I deleted it.  I rationalized that the blog was too new for me to “rock the boat” and engage in pro-life vs. pro-choice controversy.
What makes all of this wretchedly ironic is I’m the once divorced, twice married, recovering alcoholic Christian wife of a Jewish husband, mother of twins (one of the two has Down’s Syndrome) plus three other children, a daughter whose husband is black (and she’s not), and sister of a gay brother.
It would be stupid for anyone to go to a dry well. Why would I want my readers to go to a blog that offers them nothing beyond the sanitized?
Many of them face ugly, painful truths. Am I telling them it’s acceptable for fictional people to play in the mud of that, but we real ones need to avoid the muck?
If I want readers to know who I am beyond the pithy bio on the back of my novels, being honest about my dishonesty is an honest beginning.

Christa Allan is the author of Walking on Broken GlassThe Edge of Grace, and Love Finds You in New Orleans. You can find her at www.christaallan.comFacebook, and Twitter. When she's not frantically meeting deadlines, she teaches high school English. Christa and her husband recently moved to New Orleans to live in a home older than their combined ages. Their three neurotic cats are adjusting.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, Christa-- you've really hit on something. I think it's so easy for us authors to hide behind our fiction. Something to really think about!

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  2. A very brave and authentic post. Thanks, Christa.

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  3. Thoughtful post, Christa. I think we have to walk a fine line, which can be hard to do without offending someone!

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  4. Boy, do I relate to this! I wrestle with similar dishonesty often. Because I'm not published yet. Can I afford to turn off potential agents/editors/readers? Am I not attracting same folks by being less than honest? What's the line between honesty and overexposure? Great, courageous post.

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  5. And then I feel not so much dishonest, really, as much as guarded. What I share is honest, but I choose to not share more.

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  6. Exactly. I even self-censor my comments on FB so as not to offend anyone. I know, apparently I'm the only person in the world who does that.

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  7. "Being honest about my dishonesty is an hinest beginning" - what a great line.

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  8. Thanks, Lauren. I probably need to sandblast it on my walls.

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  9. Absolutely authentically awesome! Great job breaking through :)

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