What to Write : Truth as a Blogger

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When you’re blogging, how much do you suffer through in the attempt to tell the truth?  How much do you reveal to people?

As a writer, who blogs about her life, I’m often at odds with how much I can actually tell, what I can actually share.  It’s one of those conundrums where we reach an intersection of the “let me maintain some privacy and not embarrass my family and friends” x “I feel trapped because I can’t share these things that happened.”

I mean, I could talk about the dates I’d gone on some years ago, past relationships. Most of that stuff has expired. The situations that didn’t work out and why.  I can talk about the things that happened in my twenties.  But what happens when I want to tell the story of a date that failed – recently?  Honestly, some of the best blog moments and juiciest tidbits have happened in the last few of years. It’s when life became even MORE interesting and fabulous.

What about working through some current personal issue and how complicated it is? I find there is really only space for that sort of cathartic writing – in a journal.  The one that will only be published after I’m dead.

I met a man on the train sometime last summer.  He lives around where I live, a few blocks actually.  Handsome, tall. We stared at each other on the platform for a while.  When the train came, I sat in the second seat from the one open to the aisle.  He sat in front of me.  I knew him.  But you know, DC is small.  Small small.  If you start going out, attending events, go out long enough, it shrinks.

Within a few minutes as the train went from in the darkness of the tunnels across the Anacostia River, we were talking and exchanging the usual pleasantries.  I found out he was best friends with someone I went to high school with in Alabama.  Mind you we’re in DC.  I realize he knows a lot of the same people I know.  There was a moment of hesitation because you’re guaranteed that he will ask this person about who you are…and I wasn’t the girl who was popular in high school.  I mean I was there.  I had friends, I was present.  But I wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. College and a stint of sitting out of college led to many nights out between Birmingham, Huntsville and Atlanta.  Also small.  It all shrinks.  But still… sometimes you still wonder how you were perceived then.  How you’re perceived now even. By now, because we know the same people, there’s still some kindred.

When I gave him my card, there was a hesitation.  ”Oh, you’re a blogger.” He quipped.  I asked what do you mean by that? He said “well, I hate bloggers.  They never have anything good to say.”

And there it was.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard this come from someone’s mouth.  It won’t be the last.  It’s the bloggers who have no concern for what they write and who or how they write about the person or the event. [see certain articles about certain bloggers who have recently been in the news]

But the damage was already done.  We talked for a bit longer and but you could tell he would be reluctant to say anything else to me.  It’s unfortunate.  I never did speak with him again.  I figured I’d see him around in the neighborhood.  Most who know me, come here to read the blog know I’m against embarrassing people.  I know how it feels to have the rug pulled out from under you.  I don’t ever want to be the “blogger” or the woman people don’t want to be around for fear that your story, something you said to me in confidence will end up on the web.

I’m of the rule, that if you upset me, I will most definitely write about it.  It just won’t reach daylight for the eyes of others.  I also may just use it in a short story or novel somewhere changing a few parts.  Maybe that’s not fair – but no one will ever know who the person of offense was.

One of the tenets I go by is if I want to tell someone else’s story on here, I speak with them about it first.  If it’s OUR story together, then I also try to make it plain it’s from my point of view. Which means there will always be some bias because it’s mine.

More days than I’d like to admit, I suffer and struggle, teetering on the edge of what I should tell and what I shouldn’t.  What I should discuss and what I shouldn’t.  What if such and such reads this?  What if my father decides he wants to Google me today and comes across this specific post?  More of it is am I ready to stand with what I’m publishing here on the blog today?  I realize, even as a blogger, I’m one who chooses to protect others.

Mostly, I ask myself – what am I trying to accomplish?  What do I accomplish by speaking negatively about someone or an event?  What would be the point in that?  What impression am I trying to leave with others?  While I can’t control how people view me, I know I have full control of what I release and put out into the Universe and onto the net.  Anytime I press publish or schedule a post, I am fully aware of what I’m doing.

It doesn’t mean I can’t speak about difficult subjects or topics.  It doesn’t mean I can’t talk about others.  But when I know them, there’s a process.  If I don’t know them, I try to take a full view of the situation.

I also realize, no matter how well-intentioned some posts are, there are people who misconstrue and warp what I’m trying to say.  People who will say “that’s not true!” Or people who will say “this doesn’t seem right.”

It’s not my job to control interpretation.  It’s my job to write.  It’s my job to be fair, to inspire and to encourage.

If my friend from the train, many months ago reads this, just know I heard you.  I want other bloggers to hear you too.