One year ago, a post I wrote during NaBloPoMo got me in trouble with a loved one. It upset this person bad enough that I took the post down. After this explosive event with my loved one, I took quite a bit of time off blogging to reconsider why I still do it and does what I have to say even matter? Should I have censored myself that time? Are certain topics automatically off limits? If I’m a writer, what material belongs to me and how much of what I write is about others versus my experiences or events in my life via my personal lens?
I took it down for two reasons: the relationship was more important than a little post. However, this relationship remained the same and in fact got worse even though in my eyes I did the right thing. How much of what I write could upset others and in the end isn’t that the point of writing: to illicit an emotional response in its reader?
When I was in grad school learning to be a teacher, I learned that the transaction between the reader and the text is real so real and this transaction leads to meaning making for the reader. The way it works is the reader reads a text and then to understand it uses experiences from her life to make meaning. So this transaction has little to do with the writer and so much more to do with the reader’s experiences/perspective. A persons experiences affect how she interprets a piece of writing. Yet I took the post down, knowing this reader’s reaction had little to do with what I wrote and much more to do with her opinion of me as a person and her interpretation of her experiences with me.
Thus while writing is incredibly personal, reading is just as personal. Do I have the right to share anything that inspires me to write a post here? Yes. But I have a responsibility to my loved ones. The bigger question that keeps returning to me is: have we as a culture become too open? I mean we post pics of our food before we eat as though it’s like it didn’t happen if social media didn’t see it. Even now, I’m visiting India for the first time with my husband and Facebook plays an important part of this trip–but should it? We share it all–anger, frustration, grief, celebrations via every social media vehicle. Where is the line? More importantly where is my line?
I know most of you, being human, are dying to read the post. Hell, I’m dying to share it with you to get an objective perspective on whether I crossed the line or not. However, I stand behind my initial decision, even though it was fear based, in hopes of mending this oh so important relationship in my life.
Don’t misunderstand my position here, I’m definitely not on a soapbox looking down. I am very much a part of the culture. I blog, I Instagram, and I Facebook. The main difference currently for me is that I pause and think before I post. Like citing a quote, perhaps a quick check with a friend or family member before I click “Publish” could be better protocol than rashly publishing a post because I think it’s my experience of life. I’d like to think that in this time when social media is such an integral part of our lives that I can be responsible about the topics and people whom I write about. I want to be better, I guess in the end and that’s part of why I started this blog in the first place.
Even though I had the urge to shut it down at the time, I chose instead to take a break and see how I felt in a few months. Then, National Poetry Posting Month arrived and I wrote about my life. I expressed my worries, my angers and frustrations, my feelings. At the end of the month, I had not only practiced writing poetry everyday, but also felt lighter, emotionally, because this blog allows me to process my life in a creative, mostly positive way. It is an outlet. Do I need it to be public for it to provide the benefits? No. But the public part of this has to do with me overcoming my insecurities as a writer and putting myself out there. The public part is about creating connections with my readers. I hope that they will possibly learn something about themselves through my experiences. Every artist needs an outlet and I won’t deny my right to it.