The Challenge of “Getting Real”

Carol A. Hand

The more real you get, the more unreal the world gets.” (John Lennon)

***

Tenacious Life

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Working on a book manuscript that is in part a memoir presents unique opportunities and challenges. In the editing process, I often reach passages that sound so sappy and superficial. “Ah,” I think, “this needs more work. I need to go deeper and get real.”

Few people have read the part of my manuscript that has been edited (150 pages so far), so my vulnerability is relatively unexposed. I still have 75 percent of the manuscript yet to format and edit. Life frequently interrupts that process. I wonder if I allow too many distractions as a way to postpone sharing personal disclosures even though the final work will go out under a pen name.

Even so, it seems my willingness to get ever more “real” sometimes makes me feel as though I have somehow awakened in an alternate dystopian reality that makes no sense. The heartlessness, cruelty, ignorance, and destructiveness manifested in the pursuit of illusions broadcast by media every day are beyond my comprehension. It only takes a moment to witness the wonder and mystery of life that constantly surrounds us. Of course, experiencing those moments takes willingness and discipline.

How deeply I wish I could share what I see with others. That also takes discipline and the willingness to be vulnerable. It seems some people just don’t want to be still long enough to listen deeply and look intently enough to see the miracles of life everywhere – in a dandelion tenaciously growing through cracks in the concrete or the majesty and mystery of cloud formations passing just out of reach overhead.

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Lake Superior – June 17, 2017

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Although getting real can sometimes be a lonely place, being able to witness beauty where we are conveys its own rewards.

***

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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49 Responses to The Challenge of “Getting Real”

  1. This is a great sentence…”Although getting real can sometimes be a lonely place, being able to witness beauty where we are conveys its own rewards.”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. pvcann says:

    I think it’s tough writing memoir material, but someone said to me only on Sunday, an author – it’s the editing that is the toughest. She seemed to be saying that it undoes her.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing these insights about editing, Paul. It is tough to edit a memoir. Writing and editing my 320-page dissertation was a much easier task because speaking in an objective academic voice feels “safer.” But it’s also less likely to touch people’s hearts, something I hope to do with a book focused on Indian (Native American) child welfare.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Getting real is challenging and so very rewarding. I sometimes write and delete. Write and delete before I allow myself to kindly speak my own truth. Take good care of you in this arduous process. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your important insights about “getting real,” Carrie, and for your encouraging words. You do speak your truth gently and I’m grateful for the chance to learn from you. ❤

      Like

  4. That last line is simply stunning, Carol. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. But what if we get as real as we can and just reach one person with a lasting and profound impact, someone who needs to hear what we have to say so they can become real and on and on it goes like the pebble thrown in a pond that keeps reach out in ever widening circles? 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. And if getting real is lonely, how much more lonely is it living a iie? Profoundly so I think! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. cindy knoke says:

    You have always been real. Now you are encouraging other people to do the same. Good on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wolfegeo says:

    Carol, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard this is. Once published not everyone who reads what you write will understand; there will be those who take what you say out of context and twist your words, even use them as a weapon. I don’t think you’re writing this book for them. Remember why you stared this journey; the words you commit to paper will be available to future generations; they will allow future generations to see our society and it’s history thorough another set of eyes. And hopefully to learn from the past; Your past, your life, and the lives of so many Native American children. Your words have power and the more your heart in is them the greater the power. I’m not a writer. My punctuation, spelling, grammar is horrible. But I love to read and I know when something touches me.
    Thank you for your willingness to make yourself vulnerable. What you have to say is important. I’ll shush now. Just one more thing: Why a pin name?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, Maria, your comments are always a gift. Thank you so much for sharing such thoughtful insights and kind words. It’s funny that you don’t see yourself as a writer. I don’t see myself as one either. But I can honestly say that your posts and comments always touch my heart, just as your beautiful gardens inspire me to keep learning more. I am so grateful that we met in this virtual community. You make my life kinder and brighter, dear friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. desilef says:

    This dystopian world needs your truth and reality more than ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so good to hear from you, Diane. You have been in my thoughts and I hope all is well. I have been tempted to email you but life has been a little too busy these days. I send my best wishes and my deep gratitude for your kind words, dear friend. ❤

      Like

  10. Yes, Carol, your honesty and openness are a soothing balm in these dark times.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Tiny says:

    I think you are “real” throughout, Carol. Editing is a difficult task on many levels (speaking from experience), but I am confident you will get it done. Just allow it to take its time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. underswansea says:

    Hi Carol, I smiled when I read your post because one of the things I often say to good friends when we depart is, ‘Keep it real.’ It always instills a smile or laugh. But when you think about it, is there anything more important then being authentic. It is honesty and truthfulness. People know what is real and what is not. They respect it even if their story differs from what they see/read/listen to. Keeping it real is what literature, art and music does for us. Keep hammering away at the manuscript. You have written so many wonderful honest pieces on your website, I can imagine your manuscript is more in depth but just as honest. Take care and keep it real. 🙂 Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your comments, Bob, and the parting words you share with good friends. Thank you so much. “Keeping it real” is not always as easy as it sounds, is it?. I have been thinking about past experiences, always as the weird one who read too much, thought too much, and needed to either be silent or say what I honestly felt. It’s never made me popular with people in power, but that’s never been my goal in life… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sadly, the immensity of wisdom can be daunting to many people.

    Beautiful post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We can only lead by our own example and willingness to go deep into the truth, Carol. It is stunning how committed some are to their own point of view and I’m certain they would say that of me (or you). So we do our best to be authentic and honest with ourselves and each other. Sometimes that alone has to power to create change. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jazzygirl says:

    Carol, I look forward to reading your book! You are an inspiring writer, wise and no doubt, nothing less than authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. smilecalm says:

    no app will
    ever have
    the sweet presence
    of your dandelion, Carol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Computer says:

    . Thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging comments, Mj. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Some time ago I “liked” this post without comment. Not because of disregard or laziness, but of necessity to let it rattle about for a while. Revisiting it tonight, the cathartic nature of getting real settled comfortably into recognition. Recognition of your journey, one I embarked on myself several years ago. I wanted to tell you, write with wild abandon because that alone will show you the way.Write to yourself as if howling at the moon, let your words wail and worry about editing later. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. mistermuse says:

    Well said.

    It never ceases to amaze (but not surprise) me how what I wrote yesterday is so in need of improvement when I re-read it today, and the improvements I make today will probably be in need of further improvement tomorrow. Self-editing is largely seeing with fresh eyes. As you say, “this needs more work. I need to go deeper….”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Good luck with your editing. I have found it hard with a novel I’ve written and only have notes for a memoir. I think you hit it on the head if the words don’t work well on us the writers then we do need to look again. I find that can be tough. But I love your dandelion coming out of the cracks. Extraordinary beauty and survival instincts in such barren concrete wastelands!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I feel I can resonate with this concept in my continuing journey away from organized faith

    Liked by 1 person

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