Do Your Readers Trust You?

Do Your Readers Trust You?

Over lunch one day, a friend made the comment that I don’t hold back when I write. I put it out there. He was referring to a devotional book I published a couple of months ago in which I share many personal anecdotes about my life. I had to agree. I often tell stories on myself. Isn’t that what a good writer does?

I can’t remember where I saw it or who said it, but when I first started writing, I read this quote: ‘Writing is like walking down the street naked.’ Writers, especially those who write nonfiction, put themselves out there for all the world to see. And while I don’t reveal all my life’s secrets when I write I do share those events I feel might be of interest or serve to illustrate the point I’m trying to make. I have to admit it sometimes feels like you’re a bit naked before the world.

I think a lot of books contain autobiographical threads from the writer. After all, we write about what we know or have experienced in life. Yes, some of it comes from research, but once we finish researching, what we learned is now what we know. When I read nonfiction, I would like to think that it’s all true, but after eighteen years in the book business, I’m not that naive. I know there are writers who embellish their nonfiction. I don’t agree with that practice. When I read nonfiction, I expect to read truth. When I want creative lies, I read fiction.

Back to the statement my friend made about ‘not holding back’. He has no way of knowing if all of those stories really happened to me, but he trusts me to tell the truth. I don’t want to break that trust with him or anyone else. I happen to believe that truth and trust are still important values. When I write fiction, that’s a whole different ballgame, but I still want my readers to trust me; to trust that I will tell them a good story and that it will be the best I can do.

By the way, every story in “Psalms for the Common Man,” is true. No embellishment needed.