Writing Truth: The Thing That Scares You the Most

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." 

Ernest Hemingway

The writing that resonates the most with readers is the kind that taps into the human psyche. The kind where personal, and universal, unspoken truths are typed out for all to see. It doesn’t have to be a declarative statement, it can be as simple as the emotion conveyed in a setting or action.

Regardless of what genre you write in (whether your characters are the Sea-People of the Twelfth Moon or the Tudors) having an affecting element, something deeply personal and real, makes readers identify, emphasize and (at times) become complicit with what you’re writing.

In every good book that I’ve read there has been at least one true statement or moment that resonated with me. In every great book I read, the entire thing felt like it was lodged in my soul. There are books, movies and television shows that have stayed with me, even changed my perspective, because of their moments of truths.

As a novice writer, it’s the act of actually writing those most personal truths that terrifies the most. It’s the standard writer’s dilemma  how much of myself to I add to this work? How deep should the rabbit hole go?

I have many fears and truths. Some, I hope, are the same fears that most people share. Some are strange quirks that very few know about. But there are personal truths that I don’t know if I can write and place them in a reader’s hands.

It’s not that personal truths are terrifying. It’s that they are the ones with the power to hurt you the most. To write them down and put them concretely on a page, whether under a guise of a pseudonym or a side-character, is akin to shouting it from the rooftops. You tie yourself to this truth, wrapping yourself up in it, and wait to see if your audience responds in kind.

I do wonder when I write, if my readers can tell that I still am hiding a bit of myself and whether it affects their own reading experience. I wonder if that makes me a shallow writer, keeping me middling rather than achieving something great. I can write many true things, I don’t know if I can write my truth.