When it comes to choice, authenticity tends to be the most promising way to go. My interest was piqued by the gold plated sign and luxe interior design of Rubies + Diamonds. It was a fresh look for a cafe, not your traditional chalkboard on the side walk. It was enough to make me wonder what they had…for weeks. So yesterday, I finally dropped in to spend my afternoon writing and editing with my very dear friend, Ralph.
I ordered an Antioxidant Green Kukicha tea and a Veggie Breakfast burrito. Real quick, the burrito tasted clean and flavorful. My general experience with breakfast burritos are salty and on the greasy side. I was left satiated without feeling weighed down.
I was ecstatic when he suggested the idea of having a writing session earlier this week. Sometimes, two writers are better than one especially when one is in a rut. That was Ralph’s case, who hadn’t added to his book in a little under two years. What I didn’t know was that the limelight was making it hard for him to see.
It easy to imagine book deals and signings at Barnes & Nobles once you decide to write a book. Ideally, many writers want to make a killing off of their books alongside the opportunity to tell their work supervisors to shove it. But this very dream confronts the writer with whether s/he should write what s/he likes or for mass appeal. And it’s not just writers, it’s everyone. Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to fit in because in the words of Future, “You do what you want when you poppin’.” When Ralph explained his indecision on where to direct his story, I understood completely. That was a question I just answered myself. Being that this issue plagues many writers, I wanted to offer my bid here.
Charles Bukowski is muse and mentor of mine. With his brash and vulgar delivery, I know he couldn't give a shit on what I think or anyone else. He is a known drunk and womanizer. (Probably wondering why I like him, that's another post for another day) But some how he has made it to become one of the most famous beat writers of his time alongside Jack Kerouac. What is it about him that made him worthy to be quoted and reblogged on Tumblr?
Authenticity. His genuine take on the human condition promotes the type of resonation that makes people pick up books in the first place. By resonation, I mean, the “ah ha!” moment or that part of a book that makes you say “damn…” Authenticity sends the reader off into a serious stream of thoughts and recalibrates their minds. This is known as a broadening of perspective. If a writer focuses on mass appeal, the writer ultimately loses authenticity, resonation and their expression.
If the goal is to write to please everyone, by all means, do so. It will be the most difficult feat anyone has ever tried in the history of man. But if the goal is to write a story for the writer’s own sake, then mass appeal is irrelevant.
I decided very early that I would shun mass appeal from my decision making to concentrate on deep resonation. I am not concerned with who will like Petunia, more so whether that it’s an authentic perspective that will increase understanding of the world. Because of this, I have developed a method to ensuring authenticity. If you’re in the process like I am, I encourage this method.
Two simple things:
1. Knowing that I am my first audience
2. Finding my tribe
Remembering that I am my first audience allows me to affirm my own value and the likelihood that someone else shares my values. If I like it, someone else will. What I like is good because I exist and my judgment comes from an experience many others can identify with.
My tribe is my spirit guide. I suggest that tribe members stay at a low number, it’s easier to manage. It can be as small as one person. It is important that your tribe share your values so they can hold you accountable to staying true to your intentions. If you are staying true, you will receive the validation you deserve. Validations queues you to move forward. If you lose you're way, you will be criticized, but constructively. A tribe will spark inspiration by going over ideas with you. A tribe will motivate you. A tribe will also remind you to consult your first audience, which is yourself.
It's funny. As Ralph consulted his tribe, being me, he recalled this quote by Stephen King in which he says:
"Write for yourself."
Since then, he’s found his flow and has written new pages to his book.