Periodically, I take the time to write about writing.
The safest writing rule is: “Don’t.”
Everyone who writes struggles to avoid deliberately hurting people when they write. Most writers incorporate bits and bites, if not from whole cloth, from their lives. Good people don’t intentionally stab at others if it can be avoided. Good people also take a breath and consider that they might be filtering the words in a way that’s unintended.
I write stories that combine disparate elements of life. There have been times when I’ve written a story that is one hundred percent fiction and still had people criticize me for ‘stealing their stories.’ In others, I hide the truth in plain sight, as is the case with the stolen baby story, or the one about the vengeful abused girl who grew up to exact her revenge. People share a lot of secrets with me. I am grateful and don’t set out to repay that sharing by hurting them.
It is possible that people will personalize some of the writing. This happens even when their story wasn’t in my head when I wrote it.
That’s part of the reason I remind people to stop raising their hands if they think I’m talking about them.
Chances are, I am not.
Either way, raising your hand or objecting instantly removes the doubt as to whether my writing applies to you. Or more succinctly, that you think it does. (It becomes self-identification.)
While everything that happens to me is fair game for me to write about, anyone who reads what I write should easily see that I am judicious in my restraint and especially so for current shenanigans and goings-on. Time always morphs our initial reactions. We need time to process events; though the immediate ‘take’ we have gives us insight, so too does the passage of time.
I could be fearless and accountable to no one and spew out a wildly true and interesting blog. But it would also result in needless anger, harm, and hurt feelings. That similarity to shouting in anger does have its payoffs – but the consequences to the payoffs are invariably bad and reveals our lesser selves. I fail sometimes to take enough time to consider. Don’t we all? I try not to. But it is critical to understand that we all own our own stories.
So, if you read my blog, you’re going to have to trust that what I post is well-considered, even if ridiculous.
I would write a list of recent “I thought he was talking about” stories, but there are too many.
To be absolutely clear: it is possible that I’m being an asshole and that it isn’t your imagination. If that is communicated to me, I will probably rectify the confusion or applicability. Contrary to what many people think, being an obtuse asshole does not pay off in the long run. Or conversely, I could tell the story in its unvarnished form.
Hey, I’m not perfect. Just give me some leeway here, okay?