Is Less Honest Still Honest?

I’ve been slowly chipping away at writing a book over the past two years. There are two things that impact the pace of my writing; my general happiness with regards to the quality of what I produce, and the Voice I seem to be writing with. They may seem separate, but they overlap more than I would have thought. I would like to take a few minutes to explain what I mean in this short update.

Problem #1

I have a poor command of the English language. Throughout my education, I failed just about every language course I ever took. I have heard that I write in a conversational manner, which takes a bit of getting used to on the receive end. I’ve come to the realization that I am not a writer, I am not in love with the written language, instead I am someone who has something important to say and would like to say it. I have one book in me, but I sincerely doubt I would do this a second time.

An Editor is going to have their hands full with my manuscript and that brings me to my second problem.

Problem #2

Steven King wrote an incredible book for aspiring authors called On Writing. One theme in his book was that authors must be honest. We must write what they feel. This continues to resonate with me.

Every Editor I’ve shown my work to had the same thing to say after reading a few pages, “Wow, I’d like to soften some of your content, it can be offensive at times.” That’s been universal, and is more than a little worrying. Why? Well, I don’t think I can soften it without loosing the honesty behind it.

I think it comes down to how I experience life. I do not see the world as black and white. It is simultaneously beautiful and offensive, broken and perfect, generous, kind, brutal, supportive, and living within its own self imposed mass delusion. This is independent of culture, country, government, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

I’m writing a book to help those who want to start a nonprofit organization based in a developing country. Specifically, how to get through their first two years. In order to do development work at any kind of scale, it’s important to not see the world in absolutes. It’s important to ask questions, empathize with others and empower those that might not share your common vision, ideals or ethics. Founders find themselves trying to balance ever changing local laws, fundraising requirements and compliance, while also balancing an unending stream of opinions, family obligations, personal health, and the crush of the culture that they chose to live within. It’s overwhelming. After speaking with hundreds of NPO Founders over the years, there is one common thread that runs through everyone’s story; we were all unprepared for the road ahead when we chose to start our organizations. That’s a universal truth.

So, that’s where I am right now. I’m about 45% through my First Draft, with a goal to have it complete by October 31st (2018).

I’m proud of one thing so far, my first draft pulls no punches. I’ve successfully produced an honest manuscript. Now, as for the grammar and tone, I pity the Editor that needs to clean that hot mess up.