Writing true


This post at Sarah Bessey’s has me thinking about what it means to write true. She talks of what it looks like to share a slice of her life with readers, and how so much of her story doesn’t end up on the virtual page. She talks of writing the truth, while not giving away the whole of her life for public consumption. This is exactly why I wish I wrote fiction. It’s tempting to want to paint a portrait of myself, one in which I look taller and wiser and like I really have it all together. I don’t give in to this temptation too often, I try to season what I dish out here with a heavy dose of reality. But, the temptation remains.

Writing out the true becomes trickier when my life brushes up against my loved ones. The friend who ticks me off. The family member with whom I play out the same imaginary argument in my head for years. The children who have a way of bringing me to the brink of insanity before their father reels me back in. The Husband. Oh friends, the stories I could tell about this man and how we are diametrically opposed in every way and how we know, know, know the Lord must have brought us together. I want to share where their stories meet mine, but I have a thirteen year old daughter who might disagree, and a family with their own stories to tell.

Anne Lamott says something like this “If they don’t want to end up in a story, then they should have behaved better.” And I love it. Absolutely love it, until I remember that there are far too many times when I should have behaved better. For example, yesterday, when I stomped up the stairs and yelled at my son in my loudest I intend to verbally slap you silly voice. I pray my children never become writers. I’d have a lot of explaining to do. So, I leave out some things in the writing. It doesn’t make my life here untrue, but rather curated, pulled together and sifted through.

I hope the curated version of my life still feels true to you, friend. I leave in enough of the ugly for you to know that this is no Martha Stewart version. Like everyone else, I’m a mess, inside a sinner, wrapped in fragile human skin.

If we were to meet in person, you would be underwhelmed. I am short, as in child sized. I’m quiet in social situations. I never, ever think of a witty comeback until it’s too late. I yell at my kids. I am exceedingly irrational at certain times of the month. I hate to cook. I don’t pray enough. I kind of like not attending church sometimes. (Ssshhh. Don’t spill this wee secret to the children.) I’ve been known to throw things and swear at my husband in anger. And I worry I’ll never make it as a writer. A lot.

I’ve got baggage. Baggage I won’t write about because doing so is hurtful, non-productive, and self-serving. Writing helps me see the beauty hiding beneath the baggage. This is what I have to offer you. Beautiful and true with the occasional side of crazy.  I’ll leave the extra bags at home.

What are your thoughts on writing or telling or living true?


  • sarahannrogers

    You are wonderfully honest, and I appreciate how you write truth here. Even though I’m a new reader here, I already look forward to reading what you’re sharing.
    I think writing true is a little branch off of living true. It’s tough to come to the place where you see your life for what it is, one crazy complicated glorious mess, but when you do, it allows you to connect with others. We’re all halfway put together.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      “We’re all halfway put together”. Amen.

  • I really like this, Kimberly. As a writer, I’ve mulled over these topics myself. I too like Lamott’s quote, but echo your conclusion: I should have behaved better countless times myself.

    It’s nice to hear what’s true for and about you, as it helps others become more true about themselves.

    Love reading your thoughts on writing. Please keep sharing!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks, Jennifer:) I’m mulling over the idea of a few posts on writing, so your comment is a timely one.

  • I think it is a hard balance. Personally I am comfortable writing about my struggles, but I do strive to focus on my experience and not to bring in other people. I try to make sure that if I write something important my husband already knows it. I don’t ever want my real life people to feel like the blog is coming ahead of them.

  • So glad I’m not alone in these thoughts, Kimberly. Great post. and thanks for the shout-out. I think we’re figuring out how to be “true-faced” while still keeping secrets and sometimes there are missteps while we figure it out. Ask me how I know… 😉

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! And for the inspiration:) I don’t even have to ask how you know these wise and true things;)

  • kris scorza.sobieski

    kimberly, i LOVE the idea of the “beauty hiding beneath the baggage”. your writing and “truthfulness” is engaging my dear. thank you for sharing.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks for reading, Kris:)