When I first started writing, I didn’t know how personal it was. I thought I was writing about heroes and villains far removed from my dull existence. It took several years before I realized that I was actually writing about myself.
That doesn’t mean my characters are facsimiles of me. But deep down, at the core of the story, there is a truth about myself. It is layered into every story like the mortar between the bricks. A story told right, it turns out, has to have a basis in your own fears, brokenness and resilience.
Nowhere have I learned this lesson more keenly than in the writing of this very blog. I set out to chronicle the writing process from my eccentric point of view, but over the years it has evolved into a reflection of my inner life. I didn’t set out to write a memoir, but it happened anyway.
Writing, it turns out, is a very public art form. You wind up laying your faults, your aspirations and your dreams in the spotlight. I don’t mind being transparent, but sometimes I have to censor myself, because when it comes to the Internet, offhand comments can come back to haunt you years later. Some matters need to stay private; some insecurities should be safeguarded. That’s difficult to do when I see great bloggers and novelists alike earning praise for publishing their darkest secrets and the minutia of their everyday lives.
That is the balancing act of the writing life. How do you weigh self-disclosure against mystery? How can you be honest with your audience without exposing the inner workings of your relationships, family or workplace? How do you guard those boundaries without sacrificing the truth of the story? Any ideas?
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Jonny Eberle asks a lot of questions. He is also a writer in Tacoma, WA and a frequent Twitter user. Thanks for reading?
3 responses to “The Trouble With Self-Disclosure”
It is funny that we all start at the same basic act of creating a blog. Some just want to sell something, some want to create a diary, and some are looking for an escape or a chance to hone a craft.
Then it just takes off.
My blog has never been overly personal. I never rant about politics or my religious views. I never express my anger that I am in my forties and I still shake my fists at my parents’ picture because they never bought me The Mongoose bike I wanted for my 11th birthday. So I try to keep things in the context of my blog.
However, I do realize that people want to know something about me. I think this is what makes blogging so great. Even my site with my surfing tales and odd music must push me to divulge somethings about myself.
Readers want connectivity as opposed to an article of facts like a magazine would deliver.
You just have to decide how much to put out there.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. We know that readers want a personal connection and so we have to decide how deep that connection goes. It all comes down to how comfortable you are with that kind of transparency and carefully steering away from topics that are too sensitive (sorry about the bike, by the way). Thanks!
The actors who play my parents in my systematic desensitization therapy sessions are great! I am now up to receiving a Razor Scooter from them without any episodes so a bike is on the horizon… Or so says the therapist.
This soon will be replacing my normal posts!! Ha ha!