Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Danger of Writing

Writing is a dangerous profession. We are all thieves, stealing lines and situations from real life. Even when we write fiction, it's still drawn from some place of reality, or it doesn't ring true for readers.

Recently I heard from someone very important to me, and feelings had been hurt by something I had written. This kind of collateral damage is not at all intentional, and I fear that it may happen many more times along my road to becoming a professional writer.

Misunderstandings can happen between anyone at any time. They always hurt, and ideally can be worked out with a great deal of care and explanation on all sides. Our words matter, and I must take responsibility for mine and apologize where my words cut and injure.

I'm learning how to walk this fine line. Writing a part of my story in a memoir is concerning where it intersects with real people in true life situations, because I am simply telling my version of the events. Through my lens and filter, the events and interpretations may differ radically from another person's recollection. This is a part of the writing process. I don't think it can be avoided, but I do feel a responsibility to be as careful as I can with events and issues I choose to write about.

It's not an exact science, and I will make many mistakes as I go. I'm so very grateful that my friend had the guts to approach me on what I said, and hold me accountable. I hope that my explanation will help to pave the road to forgiveness and keep our relationship intact, because it's important to me.

We all read situations with our own slant and bias. We bring all of our individual feelings and experiences to bear on everything that impacts us. It's impossible to predict how some people will react to things we say or do. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I was trying to take things at their face value and not read into all of the emotional subtext in every conversation. I've been working hard at that and it is helping me navigate through the complex social mazes I find myself in.

Many times I fail, and must apologize for my words and actions. I don't want to be careless and hurt others, but I also strive to be honest and true in my writing, and sometimes the latter causes the former. I don't expect everyone to agree with what I say all of the time. All I can do is keep trying my best, treading lightly with the feelings and opinions of others, while recognizing that my thoughts and ideas belong to me, and must be shared honestly if my writing is to carry any meaning at all.

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