It’s the moment most writers wait for. Someone sidles up beside you and says ‘I read your latest blog/book/article’ and proceeds to share their own story.
But when your latest blog is on leaking pee when trampolining, or the humiliations of pubic hair shaving before a Caesar, generally those conversations don’t go so well.
Many moons ago an article I wrote called ‘Diary of a Caesar’ was published in Offspring Magazine. It was a blow-by-shameful-blow account of having c-section, peppered with all the blood and glory that happens to a lady’s business end during this time.
And then my uncle-in-law approached me, and started to discuss my article and some of its not-so-fine details.
It made me reconsider my limits when it comes to sharing personal information.
See, the thing about writing is that you don’t do it in front of an audience. It’s usually just you and a computer. You can sit and deliberate about what turn of phrase to use, or scroll through the thesaurus looking for a better word, but ultimately, when you hit ‘publish’ you’re still on your own.
You never get to see the facial expressions of people reading about your intimate secrets. You never get to hear them laugh at your jokes (and humiliations). You don’t get to see them nodding their head in agreement, or watch them as they share the article with their friends. You don’t hear them mutter obscenities if they don’t agree with what you’ve written. Any feedback you get is often delayed: silent words on a page or a number that clicks over.
Which is why, when an actual real-life human approaches you and starts to talk about enjoying your article it can be a special moment. Except lately, people only seem to be talking to me about my post about peeing when I was jumping on a trampoline with my four year old. Not my finest moment.
People assume that because you have shared an intimate moment online where millions of people can read it, also means you are willing to discuss it in person.
Here’s the thing: that’s not actually true. Comment by all means online, but let’s keep those comments virtual.
I often write painful, embarrassing, humiliating, intimate or just plain disgusting things online because I want to share, and let people know ‘yes, it happened to me too. You’re not alone.’ But I don’t necessarily want to rehash those painful, embarrassing, humiliating, intimate or just plain disgusting things in person.
Probably because they’re painful, embarrassing, humiliating, intimate or just plain disgusting.
So now I’m considering a coding system on my stories: green for ‘let’s talk about this one’ and red for ‘let’s never mention this again.’
For the record, this one is GREEN.