It is perhaps an irony that the more widely-read my personal writing becomes, the less likely I am to actually write any of it. It’s easier to write when the audience is some nebulous, faceless “other,” than when it’s made up of my actual friends and family. People I see on the regular and whose opinions I care about (to a greater or lesser extent).
I mean, we all like to say we don’t care what other people think of us, but it’s not true. Not usually. Not for most of us. What if this friend reads my post and thinks it’s about her when it’s not? What if this other friend reads my post and realizes it’s about her when it is? What if that friend is repelled by my opinion on this topic and decides she doesn’t want to be close to me anymore as a result?
Laying your thoughts out can be pretty raw, pretty exposing. Look at David Sedaris. He writes sometimes-hilarious and sometimes-moving pieces about his life and his family, baring his most personal thoughts about them to the world. He’s made people laugh, and he’s made people cry. He’s moved people, made them feel deeply, and I suppose that is always a writer’s firstmost goal.
But David Sedaris does not have a good relationship with most of his family members. Writing honestly about yourself is hard. Writing honestly about yourself and including all the people who move in your orbit can be damaging.
Not that this nothing little blog is in any danger of being read by more than a handful of people, especially if I choose not to publicize any particular entry. But I think about it, that balance between honesty and hurtfulness, between writing my life and exposing other people’s lives in the process.
I thought that maybe when I turned 40 I really would stop caring about what other people thought. I have, a little. But not fully, and I don’t think I ever will fully. I don’t think that’s possible as a functional human being. I just need to figure out how to keep writing anyway.