Writing about personal subjects

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  1. MizBejabbers profile image87
    MizBejabbersposted 11 years ago

    Have you had some experiences in your life you would like to write about, but you feel that they are just too personal? By that I mean they would be too embarassing or they would hurt someone close to you. If you were guaranteed total anonymity, would you write about them?

    1. kathleenkat profile image84
      kathleenkatposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Yes. That is what my personal journal is for.

      Anyone remember those diaries with the lock and key, growing up? Yeah, I am still guilty of occasionally writing in one. Things in a bedside drawer are less likely to get around than on the 'net.

      1. MizBejabbers profile image87
        MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I do remember them. My friends had them, but I had a nosey sister, so I never kept one. I was afraid she would pick the lock with a bobby pin. (Remember those?)

        1. kathleenkat profile image84
          kathleenkatposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Yes! I had a brother, so things were pretty much safe in that department. I don't think he would have even bothered reading something, even if it was juicy diary-info. He liked his video games.

          Point is...if you *must* write about something like this, do it on paper! Anything on the internet can and will get around. I had once written a friend some personal stuff, over email, about something I was going through. Later on, we got in a fight, and she spread those emails all over Facebook. Sometimes writing is a good form of therapy, and better done behind lock and key.

        2. Lisa HW profile image63
          Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Funny you should mention bobby pins.  This has nothing to do with the topic of the thread, but I couldn't resist...

          Last week we had wedding rehearsal for my daughter's wedding.  The flower girl found a bobby pin on a couch and decided to put the bobby pin in an electrical outlet.   The wall got some black streaks on it, and the flower girl did have to hold her fingers in a cup of water throughout the rehearsal; but fortunately, no real harm was done.   smile    So - yes - bobby pins are alive and well and have been in the minds of a whole lot of people I know in recent days.   big_smile

          1. Sally's Trove profile image79
            Sally's Troveposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Major stories can be told about bobby pins. I keep a card of them in my bathroom for when my mother visits. She still uses them. I remember them for being handy to make "French curls" around my ears when I wore an up-do. I think I could tell this story without fear of offending anyone. smile

            1. MizBejabbers profile image87
              MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Sally, I keep them around, too, just as a tool if for nothing else. Last year I decided to let my bangs grow out, and when I had to resort to bobby pins to keep the hair out of my face, I decided it was time to cut bangs again. LOL.

          2. MizBejabbers profile image87
            MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Lisa, oh my gosh, I'm glad she wasn't more badly hurt or killed!

      2. janshares profile image93
        jansharesposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        My gut tells me, "No," I would not advocate writing very personal stories on a site like this. It's too public. Even if done in anonymously, we are all connected by 6 degrees of separation ( I recently heard it changed to 4) increasing the risk of someone being exposed or hurt by your sharing. Remember that you wouldn't just be sharing details of your personal life but that of someone elses without their consent. Aside from what my gut tells me about what I would do, maybe you should ask yourself what your motives are that might be prompting you share personal stories that include the lives of others, in a public forum. It is indeed a sticky subject where the pros and cons must be weighed carefully before making the decision to openly share.
        Hmmm . . . this sounds like a good hub :-)

    2. lrc7815 profile image83
      lrc7815posted 11 years agoin reply to this

      As more of an emotional writer than a logical one, I often face that dilemma.  I have resisted so far but am considering how to tell those stories through creative writing using a lot of fiction.

      1. MizBejabbers profile image87
        MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Irc, I replied to you and had one of those crazy popups that wouldn't post my answer because it said I had referred to a hub, which I had not. Anyway I think you have a good idea, and I have done the same in the past. I'm sure I will do it again in the future.

    3. Sally's Trove profile image79
      Sally's Troveposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I think this is a wonderful topic of inquiry for any writer. All writers struggle with this question of how honest to be when it comes to the impact their writings may have on the living people they know. The question becomes, how honest am I willing to be with myself, and what risks will I take to tell the truth?

      Fiction, certainly, is a great escape for this conflict. But then, even memoir is fiction.

      Glad to see this discussed here.

      1. MizBejabbers profile image87
        MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Sally's Trove, thank you for a good answer. I think it takes a hard heart not to consider the feelings of the people we care about. A good example right now is the estrangement going on between Damien Echols and his book and Jason Baldwin and his movie, both about the West Memphis Three. Sounds like it is destroying a beautiful friendship. I just could not have made a couple of the statements they have made about each other, but then I don't know the whole story between them.

        1. Sally's Trove profile image79
          Sally's Troveposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          I'm not sure it takes a hard heart. What is the relationship between honesty and cold disregard? And, what are our relationships with people in our lives about whom we may write? Some may understand us better than others. If we, as writers, avoid truth to protect another, what does that say of conviction to our beliefs, of selling ourselves out for the sake of being nice? It's a tough place to be in.

  2. fpherj48 profile image60
    fpherj48posted 11 years ago

    Hi there Mz B.....I think I've pretty much done this already with my 4-part "Journey" series.........and presently, I can't think of something more or even another aspect of my life that I would or could share....maybe one day, I will choose to do this. I don't know, at the moment 
    For me, it's not a matter of wanting anonymity.  I'm not afraid or apprehensive about sharing any personal part of my life.  It is what it is...what it was and what it will be.......which, basically, for better or worse is why I am who I am........Good question!!

    1. MizBejabbers profile image87
      MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I haven't gotten around to reading that yet, so thanks for mentioning it. I appreciate your answer.

  3. Lisa HW profile image63
    Lisa HWposted 11 years ago

    I have a long and complicated story that I really want out and made public for two reasons:  1) If it were out it might help other people keep some devastating things out of their lives, and 2) because I have no reason to know that anyone in my own life (close or not-so-close) knows the truth of my story, I pretty much live with it alone; while a) it continues to damage my life, b) there are times I am treated in a way that "doesn't match" who/what I really am or the experiences I have had.  So, for those reasons I'd like my story out and public.   

    I don't need to vent on paper, and I've already handwritten most of my story and sent it to an attorney who was supposed to be representing me (because my story also amounts to "fuel" for lawsuits and getting justice and/or compensation for me).  So, I want my story out for the reasons I mentioned in the first paragraph here.

    But - yes - I don't want to embarrass some people.  Also, I have pride and dignity and don't want to make public that anyone who actually tried/wanted to hurt me may have, even in some small way, succeeded.  In other words, I don't want to give some people the satisfaction.  Also, I'm a mother.  There are things mothers would never want to say if they knew their children might one day see some "innermost thoughts".  My kids are grown, but they live with the same story I do (but now that they have their own life it's more distant for them, although still a factor in a lot of ways). 

    I've tried to tell my story in bits and pieces, and with leaving out some details or inner-most thought type of stuff; but it's the stuff I keep leaving out (no matter how many times I try to tell the story or part of the story) that I really want out.  Without that stuff out the story doesn't have the same impact.  Worse, without it out anyone who reads the story is likely to notice that something is left out (and then assume what I've left out is something that would make me look bad, or make my story less credible).  That's not the case.  What I need to leave out would make someone else look bad or feel bad. 

    I keep thinking about different approaches to a book and haven't ruled out any of them.  I've started another account on HP and could write my story under that name, which would take care of the thing about my thinking it could be helpful to other people.  Under another name (and this name is a pen-name anyway, although my friends/relatives know it and it's a well-established, business-type of pen-name - not just a quickie user name) getting the story out won't serve that need/wish I have to have people know the truth, see that what I say is 100% accurate, and stop treating me/seeing me as if I'm someone/something that I'm not.

    So, it all just remains a big dilemma for me.  When/if I figure out how to tell the complete story (while still keeping some of the things I want to keep private), I'm going to need to write it in my own name.  In fact, over the last few days I've been in the process of transitioning a lot of my "Lisa" stuff to one place under my real name.

    What other people (in offline life) think of me wouldn't matter if they didn't also treat me according to absolutely inaccurate information/beliefs about who/what I am.  When it gets so people are talking to you or doing things as if you're someone/something that you're not, it gets very isolating; no matter how well one is able to overlook it and understand that others "mean well".  Telling only most of the story (but leaving out the stuff I want/need to leave out) means people read whatever parts of the story they read (or hear it in conversation), jump to conclusions about why I'm in the situation I'm in, and then say things like, "You can't blame other people for your problems" (and in my case, I can - really! - and I can give names, deeds, facts, dates, etc. to prove it); or else they'll offer tips of things I ought to do, when - really - I've done everything anyone else thinks of to do, and a zillion more things on top of those; and clearing up the situation I deal with is something that won't happen unless/until my story is "out" (to the public, to lawyers, to whoever it needs to be out too).  Basically, it's too bizarre a story for people to just believe if I don't add enough detail to explain how it all happened.  That detail is in the stuff I don't want to make public.   So, here I am....  Writing half-baked Hubs while I think about how to approach telling the story somewhere other than here.

    1. fpherj48 profile image60
      fpherj48posted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Lisa, After carefully reading your every word, I come to only one, deliberate conclusion. You should and WILL, finally write your FULL & complete story, under your own identity, without leaving "anything out," when you come to the undeniable realization that.....THAT decision is the ONLY correct & authentic means to completely liberate yourself.....which is most important and deserving.  Good luck.

      1. Lisa HW profile image63
        Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        fpherj48, thanks.  I just happened to see this when I was doing something else.    I think I'll eventually tell the story under my own name, and with as much in it that needs to be in it (even if I'll never be able to really put some stuff in).  Even before the pen name was known to people I know, there has always just been the thing that if it's not under MY name - it may as well have been written by someone who isn't me.  So, on here, I write around what I want to write, sort of hint at it, and/or just write about stupid stuff that has nothing to do with what I really want out there.  In the meantime, I can't make myself be interested in writing Hubs about things like products or information (which is what HP wants these days).  Then again, if I try to think up (for somewhere other than HP) what to write (with regard to the story), it gets to be more than I can deal with/dredge up again.  So, it's a whole, complicated, thing for me.  BUT, I'm starting by gradually transitioning to my own name, with "safe" material that I don't mind anyone seeing.  Of course, my aim was to start really getting started with that last night.  You know what I did instead?  Hang out in the forums!  (lol)  (foot-dragging, apparently  roll)    I actually did write the story once and thought it would do the job.  The trouble is that I did leave out the details that would make it clear that the story was absolutely true, but also that it was easy to see how it all happened.  I just can't describe how complicated and layered all the facts/elements are.  What I wonder, though, is how many more people are out there like me - with a story they keep to themselves because for any number of reasons they don't feel free to just write it all out.

    2. MizBejabbers profile image87
      MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Lisa, I so appreciate your detailed answer. It sounds like you have quite a story, and you face a dilemma that I face sometimes when I decide not to write about something -- my children and grandchildren. I hope you write your story for us, even if you use another name. I am an enabler -- there, I got it out.  I admit that it is a major defect of mine, and I don't want to make public just how much. Thank you for being so forthcoming.

  4. fpherj48 profile image60
    fpherj48posted 11 years ago

    All you have made perfectly clear......is that you have one HELL of a Mystery Story going on here!

    1. Lisa HW profile image63
      Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      smile     That's yet another problem....     It's not even a mystery story.  It's more of a different kind of "Much Ado About Nothing" - without the humor..    smile  Oh well...   working on how to deal with it.    smile

      1. Jean Bakula profile image94
        Jean Bakulaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Hi Lisa,
        You could try again and disguise it as fiction, and change the names, but do it on another writer's site. I've had that dilemma about getting too personal about what I write. Plus personal issues really aren't supposed to be on a writing site if it's that personal, that's more for a diary, journal or personal blog. But if your story really is bothering you that much, and you think others can gain something from your experience (and there's a lot to be said for that), go for it. I had an avatar at first, to keep a bit anonymous. But as I began to write in other places, I decided it hurt me, and changed to my real name and picture. Your followers can find you more easily then. If you are worried about hurting family members, too bad, if they were the ones who hurt you. What goes around comes around, and you seem to want to get the truth out. It can't be good for this to be weighing on you so much. Let it out!

        1. Lisa HW profile image63
          Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Jean, thanks.   I started using the pen name because it was kind of recommended on another site.  I wanted to keep my professional endeavors (and any searches of my real name by potential/current employers) apart/separate.  It did seem safe and wise, even though I didn't really feel comfortable with it.    Now I just kind of feel like the pen name has taken on so much of a side-life on its own (even if it's not professional writing I do under it) , it's not what I want.

  5. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 11 years ago

    When writing non-fiction, as a writer, I only reveal what I'm willing to stand behind.  As a reporter, I'll do the same.  But depending on what I'm writing about, I usually protect my sources by allowing myself to change names and possibly locations.  And I will allow myself the luxury of secrets about myself that I will take to my grave.  I wasn't put on Earth to bring heartache to anyone, and that includes my writing.

    1. Lisa HW profile image63
      Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I've changed names on otherwise true online stuff - not because anyone had anything to hide, but because they didn't ask to have their names and situations put on the 'Net.  Other than that,there's nothing I've ever put online that I'm not willing/able to stand behind/back-up.  I'm not someone who will ever post (or even reveal) "innermost thoughts".  My aim isn't ever to bring heartache to anyone.  My main aim is get the truth out to, maybe, put an end to some of the elements of "hell" that I live with simply because it seems to me that after years of hoping the truth would come out (and be acknowledge to me), it isn't happening.

      I'm kind of tired of writing with the aim of trying to turn what I write into something that may have some redeeming value or insight for readers.  My story/situation is eye-opening (and would be useful to a lot of people),but I've reached the point where I want my writing to serve my own purpose - at least in a project or two.   hmm   Besides, I kind of feel like making something useful/insightful out of some bad things can turn something bad into, at least, something that may be helpful to someone else.

    2. MizBejabbers profile image87
      MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Arlene, I think you have hit my nail right on the head. Thanks for saying it so well.

  6. Jean Bakula profile image94
    Jean Bakulaposted 11 years ago

    Hi Lisa,
    The wisdom of whether to make up a pen name or use your real one has changed in the two years I've been writing online. The sites recommended a pen name and avatar at first, and then last year alluded to the fact that it seemed more professional to use your real name. Since I'm an Astrologer and Tarot Reader, I get piles of email from people who want information from me, but don't want to pay for it. I'm pretty generous with info if it's something I can answer easily, the reason I chose Astrology to begin with, and then wrote about other stuff too. My email address is not my real name, it's a made up one, but I can't keep up with the tremendous amount of mail I get. So I am in the process of thinking of another email address to give to just my inner circle. Isn't it hard to keep up with all the site changes too? I guess many of us write in other places, and they are all changing so fast.

  7. fpherj48 profile image60
    fpherj48posted 11 years ago

    Sally......DITTO....I bow to your response...Utter truth and reality......Let's not be co-dependents,enablers.......nor protectors of those undeserving of respect.!!

    1. Lisa HW profile image63
      Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Things can get trickier, though, when it is people who mean no harm and don't know any better, who create very serious problems - or else people who have done nothing to bring on a situation and therefore don't deserve to be embarrassed.  It's amazing - the kind of stuff the most well intended and caring people in the world can bring on.  My dilemma is that in my situation, it shouldn't have mattered who knew any better and who didn't.  There were professionals involved and laws in place that should have eliminated complications resulting from intial misunderstanding/emotions of the personal root of the situation.  It is those professionals who I'd be delighted to embarrass (and worse), but I can't tell the story - really - without first bringing up some of the dynamics involved that.   However, I have spent today adding some pages under my own name, and I think my approach is going to be to break down the story and not put in all in one piece of writing.  (I mean....   I'm not in any physical danger or anything, except for the toll stress has to be taking on my health; but it's a real a horror story in its own way.)

      In a moment of trying to isolate the "pen-name person" from the "real-name person", I removed my Google and Facebook links from my profile here.  I'm going to put them back.  I have to make peace with at least the fact that, of all the stuff I'm not able to say, none of the "Lisa stuff" (on my own sites/blogs) is anything I need to keep to myself.  (I can't believe I've become someone who's doing all this back-and-forth in the forums.  I suppose I'm hoping that someone else comes on here and says s/he's going through the same kind of thing.

  8. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 11 years ago

    The most important thing is to see things as they are, and not as you want them to be.  Then you can go from there.

  9. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 11 years ago

    Right now, I'm writing about the suicide of my friend.  This happened over 10 years ago, and it took me years to understand why she killed herself on one of the most important days of my life.  And that she promised to be there for me when I returned.  I was training for six weeks in another town.  I had to keep going because I didn't know about the process of healing at the time.  She was a victim of suicide, but those who were close to her were victims, too.  Sometimes, when you allow yourself some time to step back and review the situation, you may come to some kind of conclusion or understanding.  No one told me that she had been suicidal all of her life.  Her life wish was to die, and she was just waiting for what she thought of as the right time to do it.

    1. Lisa HW profile image63
      Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I'm sure - besides whatever else you have to share in what you're writing - you've got some insight for those who have have been survivors of losing someone close to suicide.  What I so often think of is, if those of us who haven't been through some things don't get it out there....    Who else is there to be able to offer truly real insight.  I've often felt like a great, big, downer with some of the Hubs I've written - which is why I often try to balance off some of that stuff with something really "stupid".  But - hey - I don't want to waste some of that hard-earned insight/experience when - maybe - it could be of some use (or just emotional support) to someone going through something when they read a piece of writing.  One problem for me,though, is that usually I won't write about something unless I've long ago processed the emotions and turned the whole thing into "old news".  My present issue is a present issue.  I'm over Phases One through Ten of it - just not the present phase.

    2. MizBejabbers profile image87
      MizBejabbersposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I am so sorry, Arlene, to hear about your friend. My sister committed suicide when she was only 30, and we wondered for years why she did it. When several of us in the family came down with a genetic thyroid condition that was hard to diagnose and became depressed as a result, we had the answer. Her's went undiagnosed. I do intend to write a hub about it someday because there is nothing in the story to embarass or hurt family. I have written about it before and it is cathartic.

  10. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 11 years ago

    Thank you so much for your insights, MizBejabbers, and I am so sorry about your sister's suffering.  My friend had fooled us all with her behavior.  Or maybe we were all in denial and told ourselves that she was happy all along.  I'm not going to publish the article unless it is fairly written.  There is always two sides to a story.  And if she were still alive, she could defend herself, and I would need to be looking for another topic.  But I'm not protecting her, either.  Her suicide brought pain to all of us who were left behind.  It is the first thing we remember whenever we think about her.


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