How much is too much?

You may have noticed I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ve been pretty busy traveling, seeing friends, and preparing for my Peace Corps service. However, there have been a lot of times over the past few weeks when I’ve wanted to write and haven’t found the right words. The trouble is that I’ve made this blog about as public as possible and some things don’t feel right to share. My life is greatly influenced by my friends and family – but does that make writing about them okay? It’s kind of an odd feeling to write a post inspired by a spiritual conversation with my mom’s cousin, knowing full well that she may read it, and she may or may not like what I say. It feels almost exploitative to write about my renewed perceptions of life and death after spending time with my grieving uncle. I’ve run into this problem before but have always shrugged it off or skirted my way around it – but lately it seems to be staring me in the face every time I sit down to write. How much is too much? I cringe when I see people over-share or over-post on Facebook and other social media sites, faux-pas I’ve been keenly aware of and try my best to avoid. I often wonder if this blog crosses the line…

But then again, some of the best writers shape characters and ideas based off of their close relationships and personal experiences. Indeed, some of the best and most powerful writing I’ve ever done has come out of painful events in my life. That writing I have shared with next to no one. Sure I can change names and minor facts, but that doesn’t mask much if the majority of my audience can figure it out. I’ve thought before about starting a blog under a pseudonym, but who will read it if I can’t promote it? It’s an odd dilemma, feeling simultaneously the need to write and publicize and the need to remain anonymous. I’ve boiled this dilemma down to two main issues: I don’t want to hurt the people I love, and I don’t want my identity to be tied to the things I write.

The second one may be a little harder to understand, so think about how you monitor your social media presence: you post only the most flattering pictures of yourself doing fun things with friends, you write about your adventures and travels, you log your five mile-run and tweet about your awesome yoga class, you post pictures of the beautiful cupcakes you made with your adorable niece and the flowers your boyfriend sent… so where’s all the shitty stuff? For the most part, you filter that out. Well when I write, a lot of the times I’m inspired by the shitty stuff. The shitty stuff can make for some really good writing, but it seems counterproductive when I’ve worked to create a positive online identity. I don’t want the way people perceive me to be tied to the shitty stuff.

So where to go from here? What am I even doing with the blog? I’ve already thrown the most basic blogging advice out the window by refusing to narrow my subject matter and writing about everything under the sun. Sometimes the things I write totally suck – am I even trying to be a writer? I don’t know. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome. Sorry for the hiatus.

EDIT: After receiving a concerned message from a friend I observed that this post makes it seem like a bunch of shitty stuff has been happening. I assure you, that is not the case at all! Rather, these last few weeks have been fabulous, and therefore somewhat boring to write about. I try to limit my this is all the awesome stuff I did today and here is a picture of a cake you can’t eat posts because I realize that they’re actually not that interesting to read. Which is how I ended up in this rut in the first place. I want to write things that have actual content, some sort of take home message or an idea you can weigh in on; and lately all of the ideas I’ve had seemed a little too personal.

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2 comments

  1. Juliet

    I’ve had a lot of the same thoughts regarding writing, specifically blogging. Funny enough, I’ve also had the problem of attracting concern from my friends/readers when it isn’t actually needed. :) I’ve started considering writing fiction for the first time just because of how freeing it would be to not have to worry as much about over revealing (though yes, some might be able to tie a character to a real person in my life). Then again, I love true stories. I love recounting things that actually happened. I feel weird having my person tied to my writing too, but I don’t know how I would invent a fake persona for myself and maintain it. So much of success now is bound up in the artist-as-an-interesting-person just as much as whatever they produce. Hope to read more from you soon. -J

    • Thank you Juliet! Glad to know I’m not alone in this struggle. And I love true stories too – perhaps that’s why this is so difficult at times. I wish I had the imagination for fiction writing, but I don’t think I do. Maybe it could be cultivated with some practice? Who knows. Either way, thanks for the feedback and good to hear from you!

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