Trust. Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
Hi, y’all! I’m Brooke! I’m originally from Delaware, but I went to high school in New Jersey. I’m a junior here at Vanderbilt double majoring in Theatre and English with a minor in American Studies. On campus I’m involved in both student-run and departmental theatre, as well as a sorority!
This is the standard introduction of any Vandy student (especially Vandy Guides, ily but just saying). But isn’t it kind of boring? And what does it really tell you about me as an author?
If you read the title of this piece (always read titles, people) and my first sentence, you know that this post is going to be about trust. Based on what you know about me so far, do you trust me? I wouldn’t.
What if instead I said:
Hey friend! My name’s Brooke! I’m a junior at Vandy working with Dr. Essin on some projects related to THTR 3333, but don’t worry, I really am here as a friend. There are some things that all of my real-life friends know about me, so I want you to know them too!
- I can eat a GoGo-Squeeze in under 3 seconds.
- My parents are divorced but they’re still best friends.
- My entire inner-monologue is narrated in the voice of Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek.
- If my personality could be described in a color it would be hot pink.
- I have a private Snapchat story called Cry Cry Birdie.
- I learned to drive when I was twenty.
- I have an incredibly chaotic energy but, remarkably, people who don’t really know me think I’m very put together.
- I can’t ride a bike.
- I think about food 80% of the day.
I know we haven’t met, but at least now you know that I’m more than just a screen name. Hopefully I’ve developed for you a rough “character sketch” of who I am. Besides all of those things, though, I want you to know that I have at least two things in common with you: I also go to Vanderbilt, and I also took this class with Dr. Essin. Around this time last semester, I was reading one of Dr. Essin’s infamous Read and Consider pages and I had the realization that I could approach this class in one of two ways:
- I could engage in a less than half-hearted way, writing surface-level discussion posts and not really watching the musicals.
- Or I could invest in this class, really consider the questions Dr. Essin and my classmates posed, and answer them in a way that not only challenged my reader but myself.
Considering I’m back again, still posting on The Writing Stage, I’m sure you can guess which path I chose.
So why am I back? Good question. I’m back because I think (and Dr. Essin did, too, hehe) you can benefit from some unsolicited, friendly ~advice~ from me. I use the term advice loosely because by no means do I have all of the answers; I’m here to discover with you.
As I thought about this post, I developed a working thesis of how to gain trust as an author.
Confidence + Humility + Demand = Trust
If we want the reader to believe in us, we need to have confidence in our voice. But if confidence is all we have, our reader may stop at thinking “oh this is well written.” Beyond confidence, we need to humble ourselves——if we write with a sense of superiority, we may alienate our reader. Finally, and most importantly, I believe trust requires demand——both of ourselves and of our audience. We might be a likeable reader if we only have the components of confidence + humility, but to be truly trustworthy I believe we have to move beyond the words on the page. What is our writing demanding of ourselves? Growth, change, empathy? What is our writing demanding of the reader?
Let’s put this formula to the test with this very post. At what point in this post did you decide to trust me? Or have you?
I would suspect you might not fully trust me yet. I’ve shown you my confidence in my own voice——I am unapologetically informal in my blog-style writing because I really do treat my readers like friends. I humbled myself to let you in on some of my quirks and personality traits, even some that were weird or deep. And I also told you I do not have all the answers and used “we” to include myself in the learning process.
But there’s still one component left. Demand.
Just as I had the choice to invest in this course, you do too. If you commit to this class, you will not leave unchanged. I’m serious. I really am. I wouldn’t be writing this to you if I didn’t know that this class offers a space to develop all of the components of trust I’ve mentioned.
So, friend, do you trust me? Will you invest in this class, and more importantly, in yourself, your cultural journey, and the world around you?
I hope so.