The Whole Truth?

November 28th, 2010

Because I’ve come to know so many people through starting  Skirt! magazine in the same small Southern city I’ve lived in since 1985, I often find myself pulling my punches when it comes to writing. I know it’s cowardly, but I’m reluctant to mention in an article that my secret dream is to write erotica anonymously when I know that every time I walk into Whole Foods and see someone I know, which is every time, they might be wondering or judging. I’m incredibly grateful to have an audience for my work, but I worry that censoring myself has become second nature no matter what I write. I have an unpublished essay about my mother that I’ve never tried to submit anywhere because it’s so painful and reflects badly on both of us. So even though I wrote it and it’s true, I can’t bring myself to put it out for public consumption. I don’t even always tell the whole truth in my journals because I’m worried that in case I die unexpectedly, my friend Nancy won’t make it to the house in time to get rid of them (along with the vibrator) before my kids start to pack everything up for Goodwill. I don’t know if it’s possible to have that kind of double life creatively and maintain an authentic voice in anything you write, no matter what the content or venue. Except maybe in a blog, because although it’s an illusion, I feel anonymous here. I’m not sure what the answer is — to try and write something totally honest that only my eyes will see? Somehow that’s not enough, and yet, I’m not sure why it isn’t. I only know there’s a voice in me that hasn’t been heard yet. Any thoughts on this from other writers and readers out there?

8 Responses to “The Whole Truth?”

  1. ca says:

    I wrote journals for years and never showed them to anyone for fear my truth will be dull or hurtful or both. But fear of the fabled 15 seconds of fame has me completely off writing. Now I don’t even journal. The thought that random people would have an opinion of me or think of me in passing makes me freeze. Its some kind of stage fright that a beta-blocker could fix, right? Like agoraphobia? or not wanting to become part of reality TV.

    When the phobia panic subsides the only truth left is to follow the unheard voice. I’ve been able to do that in other areas of my life (relationship, health, employment) and the result was peace with being in my own skin. You are much closer to that than you imagine.

  2. gloria says:

    hmmm, I don’t write anything I don’t want to see myself, if that makes sense. What difference is it going to make if someone reads one’s journal after one is gone? We won’t be around to see or care what they think. At least that’s the way I feel. On the other hand, I once had a journal where I had written just a little too much and so….I tore the pages out and burned them. Oh well. Have a great week.

  3. nikki says:

    I tore out whole years from my journals and now I regret it because I wish I could remember the me who lived through them.

  4. Jen R. says:

    I usually find that the blog posts or articles or essays that are terrifying to put out there are the ones that get the most gratifying response. They are the ones that get comments and they are the ones that you print! Yes, people are actually as scared to send stuff to YOU as you are to send stuff out to the world.

    I recently wrote a blog piece about a recent scary low in my marriage…I was so freaked out, but the payoff has been extraordinary. Friends have come to me crying, saying that they see themselves in me, saying that they had some big talk with their own mate or gave up cable TV (???) because of what I wrote. The fear of putting it out there was replaced by this warm thought: “Maybe I do matter.”

    It’s good to have boundaries in writing and yes, there are a few stories I may never share. Otherwise, go for it.

  5. In addition to my public blog, I have an anonymous blog. Even there, I’m careful and censor myself.

    I agree with Jen R., that often the posts we hold back on are the ones that get the strongest response. However, I’ve had trolls and been slammed and criticized over the most mundane things, which makes me reluctant to put the Big Stuff out there.

  6. ab says:

    Ok, I know this comment is really delayed, but none the less, the cosmic universe sent me over to your blog today and I just happened to choose this post to read first. Call it fate, call it serendipity, but I’ve been struggling with this very issue and it’s a little scary that I arrived at this post. I shut down my own blog because I never felt I could truly write authentically without being judged. I wish I had the magic answer, but alas I can only suggest (the only solution I have come up with) is to create an anonymous space or submit work under a pseudo name. Not the best solution considering you truly cannot receive credit where credit is due if you choose not to show your face.
    My sympathies are with you on this issue and if you ever figure out to genuinely write from your soul, pass it on. 🙂

  7. tnthriftygirl says:

    You have a story to tell, and it may be one that someone needs to hear. My family is always afraid that I may be too open with our frailties; broken people is who we are. We are each of us crazy and broken–it’s what makes us human.

  8. ASMA says:

    It is a great sense of freedom when you merge the inner you with the outer you! Do it and you will find authentic readers, rather than those who are not really interested in your writings.
    Sincerity is also something that gives the connection with the reader they know when you are hiding something and when you are laying it out for all.
    One note of caution: Expose yourself not others!

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