Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Honesty Is Such A Lonely Word (Part 2)

"If you search for tenderness
It isn't hard to find
You can have the love you need to live
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you"

- Lyrics from the song "Honesty" by Billy Joel.

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post about Honesty in the Arts and called it "Part 1" of a two-part article. However, the discussion in the comments section didn't light up as I'd hoped it would, and so I didn't pursue writing part 2 for fear of a lack of interest by my readers. But the O.C. part of me just couldn't let there be a part 1 in the blogosphere without there being a part 2 to accompany it. So here we go...

In Part 1, I talked about Honesty in music, literature, art, etc., especially when it comes to writing fiction. It takes a lot of courage and a willingness to be vulnerable with your own feelings in order to translate honest, real emotions into your characters, as well as true strengths and true flaws. If you can challenge yourself to do that, I do think it pays off in compelling, affecting writing.

Since writing that post, I've been striving for more honesty in my own creative writing and am pleased to say I think I've written my first piece, a small poem, that truly accomplishes that goal of honesty in a way I never have achieved before in my written work. It was no small victory, and it stung a little, to be that transparent, but it was also very freeing and rewarding.

Speaking about honesty in the arts is one thing, but what about honesty in real life? It can be life changing: honesty among your co-workers, your friends, your family, your spouse. Honesty includes within it the ideals of sincerity, honor, trust, fairness, straightforwardness and integrity.

It is such a blessing when you have people in your life who are willing to be honest with you. How precious is that close friend who is willing to lay it on the line and be honest with you, even if she knows it is not what you want to hear. She will say it anyway, because she cares about you and wants the best for you.

It may be cliche, but it is true, that an honest mechanic, an honest accountant, an honest lawyer or an honest politician is a rare find and is to be greatly valued. What about an experience at work, such as a performance review, where your boss was so honest and fair that not only was it refreshing but enlightening? Maybe it was a cause for you to change your work habits and strive harder or was a cause to celebrate in knowing your hard work was appreciated.

Honesty in a marriage is essential. What a relief to know you can be honest with that one person, without fear of rejection or ridicule, knowing that he will take the time to understand you and your feelings.

And how hurtful is it when someone isn't honest and doesn't hold up to their word or deceives you? Especially when it is someone close to you.

Sometimes it's hard to be honest, because it might mean admitting to a fear or a weakness, but I have found, for the most part, it is all the more rewarding to take that leap and dare to be transparent and open with someone. Relationships have grown by leaps and bounds in those little conversations.

So there you are...part 2...some rambling thoughts on the nature of honesty (in real life) and the blessings and risks that come with it.


Jesica said...

So, are you going to be honest with us and share your poem? :)

I totally get what you're saying. Honesty is crucial, and when it's found in a friendship, it's such a precious gift.

I think that's what initially drew me to Kay Arthur's books...she was so transparent, and as a new believer, it was rich for me. I hadn't seen that in churches, and here was a Bible study teacher who was willing to be that way.

I've found that sometimes when we are truly transparent, others around us don't know what to do with it, because maybe they aren't ready to be the same. So, although it's great to have friendships like this, I've found that the masses don't often appreciate it. :)

I want so much to write a book, and to do with the characters exactly what you've described. I think I'm afraid to try, because I'm afraid that I'll cheat them of their humanity by trying to package them well.

Does that make any sense?

Sure hope I get to read that poem!

Thanks for the post!

D.L. White said...

Thanks for your comments Jes. You're right about how society doesn't know what to do with honesty sometimes, and actually shuns it. People don't always want the truth.

I feel the same way about writing characters - nervous that I'll overthink it.

I don't know about posting the poem here, but I will email it to anyone that requests it. :)

Jesica said...

I'm officially requesting it. :)

Anonymous said...

I think honesty in your work (art) and at work (office) and in life (marriage) is all great. However, when it comes to art, there is a fine line, I think. I am remembering a terrible play I saw here in Chicago half a year ago. It was a stream of consciousness drivelathon in which the author worked out his breakup with his ex girlfriend. (Actually many exes, a greek chorus of them, but the story, such as I understood it, was focused on one in particular). He was definitely honest - but had nothing new to say - and nothing that enlightened my life in the two and half hours I lost in a dark theatre. Point being, honesty is essential, but when it comes to art, it can't be the only ingredient! - Chad

D.L. White said...

Thanks for the blog post Chad. You make an excellent point, how good art consists of a balance of many factors. (BTW - that play
sounds absolutely dreadful.) Honesty is just one ingredient that goes
into the "good art" mix. Like the quote I used in my other post,
"Fiction is the truth inside a lie."