Being Real

Yesterday during worship our assistant pastor asked our children if they knew what “being real” meant.  Very quickly one boy, about 8, replied it meant being honest.  Indeed, integrity and honesty bring us to the very height of being real.

Hiding nothing, speaking truth, being authentic.  All those traits carry us into a state of being real.

Our pastor then stood up to share her message with us, we adults that is, continuing a message of being real.  Her Scripture, found in Micah 6:8 (MSG), gave a clear image of God’s expectations of us mortals:  basically, be real.

But he’s already made it plain how to live,
what to do, what God is looking for in men
and women.
It’s quite simple:
Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.

And then, as if she had not already given us enough to chew and digest, our dear pastor compares this Scripture to the story of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, a charming tale in which a tiny stuffed rabbit asks one 200px-The_Velveteen_Rabbit_pg_1day, “What is REAL?”

An older and much wiser toy advises the rabbit that to become real one must be loved and adored by the Boy.

Isn’t being loved and adored what we all strive for and want?  Even we who are writers.

We want our readers to love, or at least like, our work.  But how do we achieve that level of readership?

By being REAL!  If you’re writing fiction this may not be so important to your work’s popularity, but if you’re writing memoir, how do you gain that following and perhaps adoration of readers?

A few of my thoughts as I listened yesterday to Micah and the small stuffed rabbit’s story:

  • Reach deep into your soul to bring forth the most honest of your memories.  If it isn’t possible to reach certainty on a particular scene or memory, offer your reader a disclaimer, i.e. showing your honesty of not remembering everything.
  • Write in such a way that your story comes across as real to your reader.  Use of place names, perhaps photos of places and people, music of the time period — these may all bring reality to your book.
  • Never be afraid to show your emotions.  Emotion, even anger and fear, make your story real to people reading.  After all, we all experience emotions from time to time.  A story without emotion and feeling is boring.
  • Make sure your character development receives the same treatment you would in a work of fiction.  Describe each person (features, mannerisms, quirks), and then make sure each one’s personality shines through, good or bad.  Then they are each one real.

These are a few tidbits that came to mind, and then I had to turn my attention back to the service or be caught not paying close attention to our always interesting pastor.

I am certain some of you can share other ways we can make our stories more real to our readers.

What methods or tips are you using to make your memoir real?

14 thoughts on “Being Real

  1. Dear Sherrey, You have hit the nail on the head with the statements – be “real” and “reach into your soul for the honest” . . . and never, ever apologize for your voice. Thank you. Susan

  2. Sherrey, This is a wonderful post that strikes at the heart of what we need to do in memoir- invite the reader into our experience and keep them engaged by writing from our core. I am reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s quote, “There’s nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit at the typewriter and open a vein.” Thanks for sharing.Blessings,

    1. Kathy, thanks for affirmation of my thoughts and words. You have shared one of my favorite Hemingway quotes! As always, I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

    1. Dear Madeline, The Velveteen Rabbit has always been one of my favorite children’s books, both for its charm and its story of love. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. (I found you through Ionia Martin, btw.) I’ve just finished transcribing my deceased father-in-law’s hand-written memoir of his days in the Cavalry pre- and during World War II. He actually started out riding horses! He died in 1979, but as I read his memoir, sometimes I laugh right out loud because I can actually hear him saying what I just read, especially when he wrote in the dry, humorous way he used to talk. Now THAT is REAL! It makes me cry because I miss him still, 34 years later. Now THAT is REAL, too!

    1. What a treasure you have found! So glad you’ve transcribed it. I enjoyed reading your reactions to his writing. And you’re right — THAT is REAL! You’ll always him, I believe — he sounds unforgettable. 🙂

  4. I enjoyed this post. Although I’m not intending to write my memoir I agree with the concept of being real. Not only in your writing, but in promoting your memoir. If someone doesn’t know you, people will only want to read your memoir if you can teach them something or they feel they can connect with you.
    Found your blog through the A to Z April Blogging Challenge. Hope you enjoy the Challenge ride, I had a wonderful time with it last year ~ Judy (A to Z April Blogging Challenge Ambassador for Arlee Bird)

    1. Judy, I believe being real spreads across our vast social and cultural divides and would greatly enhance our world in all sectors. Glad you enjoyed the post.
      I’m looking forward to A to Z, and will look for you there!

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