Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to teach his students to write honestly.
I said, Well, yes, but. . . .
To which he replied, Sure, and. . . .
It’s marvelous to tell writers to write the naked truth, to get the courage to strip oneself naked by remembering that everyone else is naked, too.
Human condition: a talisman for bravery.
Except that, well, maybe not so much “Except that” as “In addition to” the call to honesty one must remind the student-writers to be brave, that honesty often requires bravery, because honesty is a hard good to handle.
To be honest requires bravery because you might get your teeth kicked in.
It is also the case that to be honest can be, as I put it, “giddifying”: you are loosed from yourself as helium bubbles pop through your skin and you can’t quite believe that the words you wrote and are about to send out are your words meant for everyone. You have broken the sound barrier and speed of light and are now stretching beyond time.
You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I’m being honest, at least how I can feel after having written: discombobulated and disoriented and blinking and wondering just where the gravity went.
Not always, not most times. But sometimes, still.
Such a glorious sensation: I’d chase it forever if it weren’t so unreliable.
Or I, braver.