“I’m comfortable sharing things about myself, but I’m very cautious and thoughtful in regards to how my writing implicates people in my life. I’m very protective of my relationships, so I never insult or embarrass anyone — or even share private things about others without their permission first.”
A cautious question instantly strikes in my mind: No matter how comfortable you are with-yourself, there always are other people involved in your story, otherwise it can’t be called a story!
Ben defines his three rules:
- Never exploit a past relationship for a story. The only exception is that if my reference to someone is so anonymous or vague that there’s no chance they’d see it or care. I don’t want someone reading about negative or even private things about themselves in an article.
- Never exploit a current relationship for a story. That includes A.) not going on a date for the sole purpose of writing about it and B.) not writing about a current relationship if I think the story would have negative ramifications on the present situation.
- Don’t say things about people that I wouldn’t or haven’t already told them. (Again, the exception is if someone is super anonymous.) That’s why, if I’m writing something iffy, I’ll ask or tell the subject first.
Ben’s commitments capture exactly my thoughts about writing. Here comes some of my rare moment of candor in public: the idea of someone “reading me like a book (or at our time “like a blog”)” is terrifying. Though some may handle writing as cathartic (the more they share, the better they feel. And by “the more”, I mean “the more people”), I just happen not to be one of them. Writing (especially if it crosses the boundary of my personal life aspect) would stumble upon my “privacy-detected” wall before it can make it wild way to any other destinations.
Writing about story of the past? Needless to say, I can only retrieve my past memories as long as it makes me feel relieved and uncomfortable. Would I need to look back at it someday? I sure do, but the idea of going public doesn’t appeal to me. How about current story? I prefer to give it a proper room, since it’s an ongoing event and it still leaves room to endless possibilities. You might never know which one would turn out to drive you regret someday.
I should stop writing, shouldn’t I? My stories may seem inaccessible, non-swanky, somehow impersonal, but there are unwavering values to which I always stay true. Fortunately, people who understand me know my true self that they hardly need to read my personal writing. I’m glad they hardly “need” to, since they accept me with my own world. We’re physically, mentally, emotionally engaged enough that they hardly need to knock on any door to get into my private land. I love the way they are aware of that privacy side of me, respect it, give it space, and love me unconditionally. Writing is my expression, while my relationships are both my retreat and my life.