“You’re so honest.”
And, as if I didn’t understand this the first time, I get, “No, but you’re really honest. ”
I interpret this as a warning. And after ten posts, I’m feeling it. Shut down. Censored. And I’m having trouble writing.
I go back. I reread. I don’t know what everyone is talking about. Don’t we all fight with our spouses? Don’t we all have medical concerns? Don’t we all go to the bathroom?
Okay, I’m sorry to bring that up again but I’m fighting against censorship here. I had 3 posts lined up for last Tuesday and according to my friends I couldn’t post any of them.
As I developed the piece, Desire and Marriage: A Parodox, my friend said I could not post anything that had the words stool softener in it. “No guy will ever look at you again!”
When I repeated this to a different friend, also married for over two decades, she said: “No pun intended but who gives a shit.”
Later when I told my husband I was worried about revealing too much, he thought about it and said, “It could come back to bite you in the ass.”
The jokes were endless. Even punctuating with a colon got a laugh.
Then, there was this other piece. I’d written it with passion, okay, I admit it, I was a bit irate but I didn’t think it showed. Just to be safe, I checked with a friend and after reading it, she said, “I agree with you one-hundred percent but you can’t post that. You don’t want to be known as The Angry Blogger.”
All of this to say, I got stuck.
I called Alison #2. I named her Alison #2 because she is the Alison who is teaching me about social media. She is the Alison who is a writer and has her own blog, Very Curious Mind. I named her Alison #2 so as not to confuse my friends who know of the original Alison, Alison #1, the writer and author of The Adults who worked with me for years on my novel. Both Alisons are smart and brazen. Both Alisons have been vital to me: part teacher, part muse, part therapist. They’ve helped me fight through my fear. Alison #2 reminds me that writing what others won’t say is part of what artists do.
And I don’t get it really. What’s the problem? I go back again. I reread. I look at other people’s blogs, and see how bloggers sometimes disclose how much they’d pay for a haircut or purse, there are pictures of their children, the insides of their newly renovated apartment, their perfectly organized closet.
Now, those things seem private. Those are things I wouldn’t share.
So here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m comfortable (mostly) revealing my feelings, sharing my thoughts, but my spending habits and a photo of my headboard are off limits.
Maybe it’s just that I’m willing to look less than perfect. It’s what makes us human. I’m not ashamed to say I fight with my husband, I mess up with my kids, I forget to call my parents. And while all of that is true what is also true is that I would do anything in the world for them.
“I believe we don’t chose our stories. Our stories chose us. And if we don’t tell them, then we are somehow diminished.” (Honor Moore quoted in Dani Shapiro’s book Still Writing.)
I am reminded that I need to work hard to ward off my inner (and outer) censors.
My father says that as a kid, I always had to get the last word. Maybe that’s why I write.
Maybe that’s a flaw I shouldn’t reveal.
And maybe it simply doesn’t matter.