We spend so much time being other things for other people--at our jobs, our volunteer work, with our families. But sometimes we forget that, as writers, our "other" job (our real job) is to present to the world a work of fiction that is somehow relevant, that deals with a truth that doesn't get dealt with on the surface and out in the open in everyday life—or doesn't get the treatment it should there.
To do that, to really dig around in the grime of the truth, you (the writer) need to deeply question your own. Most people don't have time or the energy for such things. Life is easier without them. But, somehow, those same people read—and readers crave truth. They sense
when a writer is being dishonest. In a way, it's a little like the writer is doing the work of finding a truth for the reader. A short-cut of sorts.
In this way, it is the writer's job to do the grunt work of truth finding. It is the writer's job to take some time to be self-obsessed... if only for an hour a day, before everyone else gets up.
What do you think? Do you agree? Or am I trying to justify my own self-obsessed little world and you have another approach to seeking truth? Or is truth unnecessary?
The funny thing is that I posted this exact thing on a LinkedIn group—well, two of them. On one of them, I got a response that I was being too hard on myself.
Sometimes I hate posting to groups. There are almost always people who want to make you feel better, who are concerned that there is something wrong and that you are seeking advice for how to deal with your aching soul. Yes, I ask questions and I title it in such a way that I hope readers will want to read, even if they think they will be offended. But I do those things to get them to read and open up a conversation. I want us to be able to talk.
In this case, I want us all to know that what the outside world might see as "self-centered" is not a bad thing for a writer. It's necessary. I specifically don't want writers to beat themselves up about labels others put on us.
So the dude who thought I was being hard on myself, opened up the specific conversation that I wanted to start:
Being self-centered has a purpose. It allows us to accept our role without feeling like taking the time to dig around those places that others don't want to go (at least not on their own) is a negative thing. Too often I hear opposition to that—even from writers, thinking they need to be more positive. You know, we can get suckered, sometimes, into family and friends who would prefer their close and personal world to be whitewashed. They can deal with it from afar by reading books written by someone they don't know who has a similar story. That story can act as a proxy for theirs and they can deal with it passively.
I say go all in and keep asking questions until you get something you didn't ever suspect was there.
Then ask more.