The Quick & Dirty on writing authentically


What it means to write authentically

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” 
― Audre Lorde

 “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” 
― Audre Lorde

 Any time I come across an Audre Lorde quote I feel like she is still here and that she is speaking directly to me. When I think about writing authentically, I think about saying the things I want to say, the important things, the necessary things, and sometimes the painful things. This is what I love about Audre Lorde: her poems read as a narrative, her prose read like a personal conversation, where she in turn nudges you to do the work and speak the truths that make up your authentic story.


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Fragmented Memory

Memory (especially traumatic memory) can be blurry, fragmented, mixed, and even non-existent. This blurriness needs to be recognized, addressed, and included in your work for the story to be authentic. Often, writers assume they should only include what can easily be transcribed, but if writing is supposed to be easy … everyone would be doing it!

 Think of some examples of books that you love (memoirs especially) that SHOW and embrace the blur. Note this and ask yourself why it works, why the story resonates with you, why the brokenness is also part of the completeness.

 What can writing authentically do for your readers?

·      The shape and form can break down barriers

·      Others will feel compelled to tell their stories in a new way or shape

·      Full-on engagement

·      Your stories become more accessible, and reach new audiences

The above post is from one of my Advanced Memoir Workshop lectures.