I’ve written about being written about. I’ve both abhorred and relished it, but I still write about other real live living people, people who are not me – people whose interactions left a mark, people who have affected reflection, people who inspire jokes – people who could read what I write, and have.
I try to write honestly and respectfully in all things, but especially when it comes representing someone who is not me. It’s an impossible task – I can walk a mile in their shoes, but I will never be walking the same mile with them in the same shoes as them. My impression is all I have, and so I usually warn people when I plan to write about them, most people. The asshole in line in front of me isn’t getting a warning. People I meet whose conversations have already elicited an internal draft will. But like many first drafts, the final draft sometimes contains only the ashes of that initial spark.
I enjoy the process of sharing a moment of Real Life, of creating the presentation. I get giddy and all jumpy excited when I’m doing something and it’s coming together piece by piece, new image by new image, word choice by word choice. It’s seriously one of the most thrilling experiences. Sometimes I publish it, sometimes I don’t, but I can look through my body of work and feel proud of the accomplishment that is presented in the list. I can look through and see the average number of drafts per post and know that I put effort, time, and joy into putting together each piece. (I also find there’s at least one typo per post, sigh.) Failed or successful, it comes from concentrated effort, more so when I’m not the only character in the story.
When I share a moment of life, it’s because that moment mattered. How I share it depends on how I feel about it and the people in it, and sometimes I make a joke of my displeasure. Like in Introduction To Dating. I write about chance encounters – some have happened and some haven’t – and the stories involve people not me. Sometimes they read what I write. I write knowing any one of the people who have appeared in one story or another could very well read it. Writing nicely, warmly, or not, it matters, but I trust the honesty of the representation and relative anonymity I can provide by excluding identifying information – person, place, or thing – over whether or not I was “nice”. Not everyone I meet, chance or otherwise, will fit nicely and in the context of creating the story of me, nice* isn’t always going to happen.
Writing the moment, in a moment that is already removed, should be done with as much absolute honesty as possible. Yes? If it’s the truth, told warmly or coldly, it is the stuff of life. Writing the moment records the various stages of impression as I approach the clarity of hindsight.
A few times in the last year I’ve read the other side of my story – from a walk along the river to a weekend get-away. Each time I’ve analyzed the honesty in my own writing – did I hold true to the timeline, to the setting, to the crowd, to my point-of-view without assuming theirs? Are the specifics of the who, what, when, and where left general? I may not have enjoyed reading the other side, once really, once I hated it (so far), but the perspective continues to be invaluable to growing as a writer.
Have you written your side of a story and read the other person’s take on it? Have you read yourself as a character? What did you take away from it?
*Not nice doesn’t have to be mean. Mean isn’t necessary.
Mean hurts people. Don’t be mean.
Not nice means I don’t feel any obligation to try to sugar-coat shit. Ask my ex-husband.
**Featured Image and post images created at Pixlr
***The ads (which may appear) below are not mine, but they keep this free for me. Do with them as you choose.