I Will Write What I Have To Write

Whether or not you take it personally.

I wrote a draft, revised it into a new draft, and deleted the original.

Mistake.

You see, I wanted to write an article here on Medium about my writing, and how I often feel like I have to compartmentalize my writing and my life so that the two don’t intersect with each other so as not to hurt people’s feelings. I still want to write that article, so here I am, new draft be damned. Because I was trying to make it into something it’s not. (And when I finish this, I’ll delete the second draft and probably regret that later. But I’m going to leave that regret where I find it, and go on to write the next thing.)

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Initially I wrote: I want to write things that no one I know will ever read. I’ll settle for writing things that no one I’m close to will ever read.

I stand by that, but I also acknowledge that it’s not going to happen. Particularly when my mom always wants to read every word, and has ever since I started. You underestimate how influential that kind of support is, especially to a child. But I think it’s exactly that kind of support that makes writing more difficult now. I wonder if it might feel easier if I’d had to spend my entire life fighting for it.

Please don’t misunderstand — I so appreciate the support I get from the people I love. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to do it without their support. But whenever I want to write from a place of raw honesty, I want to do so without having to consider anyone else’s feelings but my own. Having the support of the people I’m close to makes that feel impossible sometimes.

Because there are times when I will write things that will upset them. Maybe even hurt them.

That is never my intention, but the intention is not always enough to protect them. It certainly wasn’t, the last time it happened.

Not long after Trump was elected, I wrote a politically charged blog post that infuriated my dad. I think it said something to the effect of, I felt like I was wasting time sitting in my college classes while women were marching on Washington, D.C. At the time, my Republican parents were living on the other side of the world for my dad’s job, and I woke up in the middle of the night to a very incensed email that sounded very much like he was kicking me out, then and there. It terrified me, and I quickly backed down, deleting the entire post. (I wish now I hadn’t done that. I wish I’d at least held on to some record of it, because it was a record of something I had to say.)

I love my dad, and he’s been very good to me, all going-on-26 years of my life. He supported and paid for my Creative Writing degree, without once urging me to study something “practical” instead. I understand now that that post must have felt like a slap in the face to him, because it did make it seem like I placed no value on my education. That’s not true, and maybe I could have clarified that. Maybe my words and actions were rash.

But I was also rash in deleting the post and never even attempting to use my voice like that again since.

I don’t want to offend or anger or hurt the people that I love. Not my family, nor my friends, my fiancé, or his family. But while I love them, I’m passionate about writing, and whenever I feel I have something to write about, something to say — do I censor myself to spare the feelings of others?

I did that once, and I’ve regretted it ever since. So now, I don’t believe that I should.

One of my favorite Half-Price Books finds is Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. In it, she writes about how her mother would call her regarding one or more of Dani’s published works and greet her with “How dare you!”

I found it admirable that Dani Shapiro has been brave enough to write what she has to write, come what may. I don’t really want to get any phone calls from my mother (or father) that begin with “How dare you!” but I want to be at peace with the fact that it might happen one day.

I want to write what I have to write, because that is what it is to be a writer.

I like to write things that make people uncomfortable.

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