The Long Road to (Almost) Authenticity

One of my favorite lines from Lynn Hunt’s “How Writing Leads to Thinking” is “writing requires an unending effort at something resembling authenticity” (pg. 3). This passage immediately jumped out at me when I was reading Hunt’s essay because I am always striving to make my writing nuanced and steer clear from the dreaded “cliche.” Although this is more than likely the goal of every writer, I sometimes take it a little too far by analyzing all of my thoughts to the point of frustration and utter confusion. Much like Hunt was describing, I second-guess the words I put on the page and end up erasing tons of sentences and paragraphs that were probably great to begin with. When writing a paper, my screen can easily turn into a blank page of nothingness if I end up erasing everything I say in a fit of self-doubt. This struggle, I’m sure, is not unique. However, Hunt lends a beacon of hope when it comes to us unsure perfectionists when she says that writing requires you to pursue “something resembling authenticity.” This is important. She does not say, writers must pursue authenticity, but instead a writing that resembles authentic. In a way, Hunt is saying there is no way to make your writing truly authentic. This can be challenged, of course, but I find comfort in believing this to be true. Instead of constantly worrying about whether or not my writing sounds “new” or “interesting” or “unique,” I hope to be able to accept the fact that finding my individual voice is going to be a long, and ultimately never ending, journey.

Thinking about my goals for the Minor in Writing as a whole, I really connect with Hunt’s “radish rule” she discusses on page two of her essay. The idea of growing my writing everyday just like the growth of her grandmother’s radishes really relates to my second goal of slowing down my writing process by maintaining a steady momentum everyday. I think this goal, as well as my previous one, can be accomplished through the Minor in Writing curriculum due to the reinforcement of the importance of drafting and rewriting. I am excited to see where I can take my writing by spending time to write “shitty first drafts” and even better second, third, and maybe even fourth ones. I am pumped and full of joy to begin this semester and start learning more about myself, my voice, and my writing. 

3 thoughts to “The Long Road to (Almost) Authenticity”

  1. Hi, Madeline! Your point about the difficulty in finding true authenticity in your writing is powerful; I think you are absolutely right that finding our voices is a journey that might have no conclusion. Today in class, someone mentioned how perhaps our genuine, completely raw voices existed only when we were children. Since then, our lack of inhibition has become wrapped in what our English teachers and our advisers and our peers tell us is good writing. I know that I feel silly when I write without restraint; even if I’m writing something in my private journal, I worry both about what other people would think if they saw it and if I am measuring up to some arbitrary, personal measure of what is good. And the worst part about it is that worrying whether or not my writing is original and authentic enough normally ends up making it worse.

    I’m so happy that you pointed out this passage, because I think it reminds all of us that it’s OK to doubt that our writing is good enough. What’s important, and what I think you understand, is not obsessing over that.

  2. Hey Maddy,

    The fact that you were so honest with yourself here proves you have more authenticity than you think you do! I can definitely relate to erasing everything on the screen or page in a fit of frustration. I feel like even published authors sometimes hesitate to pick up their novels ten years down the road because they would probably say “I should’ve used a better word there,” or something along those lines. It’s especially hard for us perfectionists to be okay with recognizing that we will make mistakes and gradually build our writing up from the foundation. This is why the goal you set for yourself–growth–is amazing. I’m psyched to read more of your work!

  3. Hi Maddy, I love the honesty you bring along with Hunt’s message. I also love the excitement and optimism you have about applying the lesson. I can relate to your feeling after erasing potentially great sentences. At the moment, it seems like it’s better to have the sentence gone and be able to start fresh, but regret seems to always follow. Indeed, it will take a long time for anyone to achieve authenticity, longer than you think, and if it is possible anyway. It’s quite a ride isn’t it? Keep up the great work!

Leave a Reply