Monday, September 26, 2011


In replying to a comment on my last post, I described censorship as "shoring up the walls of denial." And I realize that's it, that's one of the core elements of censorship that offends me and pains me so much.

Because for me, writing is about puncturing denial. It's about acknowledging truths--beautiful truths, ugly truths. Saying yes, this is real. Yes, this thing you know to be true, this feeling or fact or experience--it exists. Now what do you want to do about it?

It's about opening doors, not closing them.

I have seen denial cause incredible pain. The lie we tell ourselves is that denial keeps us safe. In fact, it does the opposite.

I'm always asking myself: What is the truth about the situation I'm writing about? How does it really feel? I want to dig beyond the cliches that build up around common experiences: red as a beet, happy as a clam, tears of joy, cold sweat--forget all that, that's how we're supposed to feel, but how does it really feel?

I want to measure the gap between how things do go and how they ought to go. I want to use all the crayons in the box. I want to show how my characters act when they think nobody else is looking.

Masks don't interest me much. The real story is usually going on behind the mask, as the authors of The Phantom of the Opera and The Wizard of Oz knew.


  1. I LOVE this post. This is what I try to do in my writing, as well. Get past the clich├ęs and write about what things actually feel like.

  2. Great post, Jenn. I really liked how you reminded us to go past the cliches. It's so easy to forget to dig deeper, or look that wall. Which, I may say, can be very human too.

  3. Becca and Mieke: Thanks for the reinforcement, and good luck in your own writing!