Honesty

Random Ruminations on Honesty and Writing

Lots of the blogs so far have been about expressing oneself through writing, and so has the articles we’ve read. Honesty is implied in that expression. To express oneself dishonestly seems contrary to the purpose of expression. However, sometimes it is quite a bit easier to be dishonest, to insert good thoughts, good intentions, and sensible mores where there is really disorder and bad ideas. Dishonesty is nicer than honesty. If the world went exactly the way my lies do sometimes, it would be a much simpler place, I would make better choices, and have a much less contradictory mindset. The worst is when you lie in writing, like in a diary or whatever. That is the ultimate form of self deception, writing down “Everything is fine, I am just lovely” on your crisp, white page, knowing that even the college-ruled lines do not believe you.

Think back to the last time you had a truly honest conversation. It hurt, didn’t it? Almost as much as writing down your honesty, making it permanent and stark. Writing something down makes it real, and all the erasing in the world can’t make it go away once it has manifested itself in a well-organized sentence.

Honesty in writing is what draws people to it in the first place. Adele is an incredible singer, no one could deny that. But I believe it is her raw, honest songwriting that draws people to her music. Sometimes the rhymes are a little rough, and the theme doesn’t always vary, but it always feels like this is how she truly feels. Her songs sometimes flip flop between strength and acceptance, and despair, the way real thoughts do. Joss Whedon writes some of my favorite TV series and movies, like Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though the characters in each of these series experience much more dramatic circumstances than the average person (I’m pretty sure you aren’t a space pirate or the Chosen One), the writing is relatable because it feels honest. Mal Reynolds and Buffy Summers might live in the world of complete fantasy, but both feel like fully realized people full of contradictions, unpretty decision making, and the kind of emotional honesty you don’t always find on television.

This is why plagiarism and ghostwriting are so repugnant. Writing is most effective when it is honest, and faking that honesty is perverse in some unexplained way. I cannot pretend that I have an eloquent or logical argument as to why that is, and I probably should, but it is just unsettling to take another’s ideas and claim them as your own honest ones. When the rest of us struggle to find the most true words to tell stories that aren’t always the ones the audience wants to hear, knowing that other people blatantly steal their words, or lie about them is frustrating.

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