So, today's post is a bit different, and yet pertains to all artists of any medium and their struggles. I recently read the actress Viola Davis' memoir "Finding Me." She dives right in and gives raw, passionate, desperate descriptions of the life she has led. I felt uncomfortable in the first few chapters, but each time I thought to put the book down, I picked it back up and did what she wanted me to do. I dived in and swam right along with her. Her story is of course courageous, loving, and again, raw. Her life is not sugar coated and her story all the more touching for her honesty. What amazed and inspired me was this painful honesty and her true, deep modesty. She inspires the true meaning of freedom and the responsibility for that freedom, hard-earned and well deserved. She was born into the same country I was, but her story is vastly different from mine. She took responsibility at an early age to be the best that she could be in a world that stood against her. She also presents a lesson to me as a writer that goes very well with the question of the month in August. "...do you try to be original, or do you write what readers want to read?" Viola Davis' story is this question: Do you be original or give what you think your audience wants? "Finding Me," her answer to that question, is a compassionate, sharp, no nonsense read.
August 3 question: When you set out to write a story, do you try to be original or do you try to give readers what (you think) they want?
I start out writing what I want to write. Once I get the first draft down and am revising, I often change things that little voices in my head (and not the ones I should be listening to, as in, my characters) tell me will make readers like it better. Then I have to go back and weed some of those nasties out and go for what my characters tell me they want/need to do as best I can. This little balancing game drives me mad. Reading Viola's story has made me re-think what I'm going to do next...
Please visit our IWSG co-hosts this month and thank them for helping out!
Loni Townsend, https://www.lonitownsend.com/
Lee Lowery, http://leelowery.com
Tara Tyler, http://taratylertalks.blogspot.com/
You got me interested in Finding Me. I'd love to know Viola's answer! Thank you for co-hosting.ReplyDelete
You're the second person to commend Viola Davis' biography to me. I do love a biography but hate it when you can't feel & hear the person concerned - so it sounds like it's exactly what I'm looking for, thank you I felt similarly inspired when I read Maggie O'Farrell's biography to structure my family memoir without a linear timeline. Isn't it great when books give us that extra gift?ReplyDelete
Thanks also for co-hosting :)
@DebsDespatches posting today from Fiction Can Be Fun">Fiction Can Be Fun
Hi, you cannot imagine how great I feel at your reading Viola Davis's memoir. I like her honesty, her way of not skipping over the rough parts and her way of letting people know that all people don't have an easy way of being recognized especially people of colour. She's a great person and a great actress, and I love her.ReplyDelete
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange
Hi again, I forgot to say thank you for co-hosting.ReplyDelete
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange
It's always good to read a book that makes you see with fresh eyes. Thank you for hosting IWSG this month.ReplyDelete
I always feel it's a balancing act. I guess Viola had other ideas.ReplyDelete
Strange, I came from Tara, where I was logged in with Google, but now it can't identify me. Strange world, Google. Back to your post.ReplyDelete
I'm afraid I haven't heard of Viola Davis, but then, I haven't heard of most people of note. It sounds like her writing really pulled you in, really. And that's why I struggled to even understand the question this month. More original that what? How does anyone know what readers of your genre really want?
Thanks for co-hosting this month!
Viola Davis is a superb actress! Her book sounds intriguing. Reading various genres, I believe, hones a writer's pen, so to say. Thank you for co-hosting!ReplyDelete
I was deeply moved by your review of Viola Davis' memoir "Finding Me."ReplyDelete
As you say, Davis and you (and me) lived in the same country but have vastly different experiences.
Thank you for explaining your writing process from first draft through the revision process.
Thanks for co-hosting this month.
Lynn La Vita @ http://la-vita.us/
Adore Viola Davis. Will have to grab this up. Your post is absolutely right on. Write first for you then edit for readers. Thanks for co-hosting this month, Lisa!!ReplyDelete
There is indeed a responsibility that comes with freedom and most people miss it.ReplyDelete
Sounds like a great book. Thanks for co-hosting.ReplyDelete
I read an excerpt from her story. Raw and uncomfortable. I can see why you would put it down then pick it up again. Considering all she went through, it's amazing she became such a wonderful actress. I loved her as Michelle Obama in First Ladies. Thanks for cohosting.ReplyDelete
Well darn. My comment disappeared. First, thanks for cohosting. I read an excerpt from Viiola Davis' book. Raw and uncomfortable. I understand why you would put it down then pick it up again. Thanks for sharing her story.ReplyDelete
I am so out of the loop. I didn't know Miss Davis had a bio out. I'm searching for it today. Thanks for co-hosting, Lisa. I love the look of your blog. I'm inspired by your answer. Have a great day.ReplyDelete
Thank you for co-hosting the blog hop this month, Lisa!ReplyDelete
Your review has piqued my curiosity. This sounds like a great book!
I do love finding that seminal book that informs my future actions. It sounds like you did!ReplyDelete
Hi Lisa - Interesting that her memoir has only just been released ... I'll definitely have to get it from the library ... sounds extremely interesting. Thanks for the recommendation ... I just like to be myself, and not do exactly what others do. Cheers and welcome home! HilaryReplyDelete
I will check out Viola Davis' "Finding Me". I also write what I want to read. Thank you for co-hosting!ReplyDelete
Sounds like Viola Davis's story was an impactful one. The balancing act between writing and delivering what the reader wants certainly is a tricky one. How do you feel Ms Davis is swaying you? Toward listening to the reader more? Or to listening to yourself more?ReplyDelete
Thank you for posting about Finding Me. Definitely one to mark on a TBR list. And thank you for co-hosting today, Lisa!ReplyDelete
I believe we need to stay true to ourselves. This is true with writing. Great post!ReplyDelete
Teresa - T. Powell Coltrin Writes @ https://journalingwoman.blogspot.com
Thanks for co-hosting today and sharing your writing process as well as alerting us to a great book!ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting, addressing the topic, and for alerting us to an awesome autobiography.ReplyDelete
I appreciate you for sharing Viola’s book giving us an insight into her life. I know I had an “easy” upbringing compared to most, and especially compared to people of color. Knowing this, I sometimes doubt my abilities to tell deeper stories with characters of different backgrounds. My diverse range of students have given me some help and inspiration, but I know I am lacking. I’ve always wanted to help and encourage others to reach higher, but in this day and age, I don’t think I can have the impact I would like.ReplyDelete
Your post inspired me in many ways (and your header is gorgeous!)
Tara Tyler Talks
Wow! What a powerful book Viola has written. Honesty. That’s what we crave in our memoirs, to read an engaging, honest story. But like you said, Lisa, sometimes they can be difficult to read.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for cohosting this month's IWSG question. All best to you!
I respect Viola Davis for putting it out there like it is. We can all learn a lot from understanding what makes someone who they are and how to apply those lessons in our own journey. Thanks for co-hosting the blog hop this month!ReplyDelete
I like reading or watching stories about the lives of other people. Like you, I sometimes will apply their struggles and solutions to my own life. It's a good way to learn more about our world and how we fit into it all.ReplyDelete
Tossing It Out
This is the loveliest book review I've ever read. A terrific response to this month's question ;-)
Thank you for co-hosting!
It's a balancing game. I think all artists find their own balance with it. I'll wish you luck as you decide on yours. Thanks for co-hosting this month!ReplyDelete
Yes, freedom definitely implies responsibility. When I have the freedom to choose, I also must face the consequences of my choices. It is a painful and uneasy realization, especially for people who emigrate from a dictatorial state (no freedom, no responsibility) to a country with democracy. I was one of those people almost 30 years ago, and it took time for me accept the duality of free life. "The only free cheese is in the mousetrap" is not a proverb for nothing.ReplyDelete
I'm glad this book had such an impact on you and that you kept picking it up even though it felt uncomfortable at first to read.ReplyDelete
I've read this book and your review is bang on about how the book felt when I read it. The details can get pretty disturbing, but her strength and power were addictive. Thank You for co-hosting Lisa.ReplyDelete
Viola Davis' book sounds like a must read. We can learn so much from the stories of others' grit and determination. Thank you for co-hosting!ReplyDelete
Thank you for letting us know about Viola Davis' book. It's on my to-read list. Your comments make me think about how our life experiences shape who we are as writers -- and how important it is to listen deeply to our characters. And thank you as well for co-hosting!ReplyDelete
Viola's book is on my list. I really want to read it.ReplyDelete