A friend once told me that Nietzsche said it was impossible to write about something unless it was dead to your heart. I can’t find any citations that he actually said this, but right now, this is about the thought, not the speaker.
One thing Nietzsche actually did say was, “A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.”
Herein lies the problem; when I first started writing this blog, I extolled the freedom to write whatever I wanted, with no one looking over my shoulder, changing my words, or cutting the piece altogether.
I know now that such freedom only exists if you don’t care about the people you’re writing about. I’ve found that to be more true than ever in the past month or two.
I’ve had a lot of things I wanted to write about here in the last year but I chose not to. If I was truly vindictive, careless, or devoid of conscience, I would have posted with no thought to the readers or the subjects.
But it’s very hard to write whatever you want when you don’t want to embarrass, upset, or confront someone else. A blog is different from Facebook or even Twitter. They are all social forums, but on Twitter and Facebook I control who sees what I write. If I post something about my anger, I know who is going to read it. If I write something on this blog, I have no idea where it will go. I’m not just speaking of negative things. Passions go both ways–anger, love, hurt, elation. If we write about one, we’re going to end up writing about the other.
It is truly impossible for any writer to ONLY write about topics that are dead to their hearts. If they did, the world would have lost some of the greatest and most impassioned works of literature it has known.
What has surprised me in the last few weeks is how often I write something, or post something, or tweet something, and I get an email or DM with a questioning response from someone with whom a comment had absolutely nothing to do. The thing is, we all read, whether it’s a friend’s blog posts and tweets or a novel written 150 years ago, through the lens of the present. And when I say present, I don’t just mean the early 21st century, I mean Monday.
So, while I will continue to censor to a certain degree what I make public on this blog, I do urge everyone reading it to remember something: I am 40 years old; I’ve had a lot of jobs; I have been to grade school, high school, college, and graduate school, all in different places; I have lived in four cities/towns in my life—I’ve been connected to lots and lots of people, and there is a raft of friends, ex-friends, ex-boyfriends, bosses, co-workers, teachers, mentors, acquaintances and enemies that have accumulated over that time. Chances are when I write something, particularly a general comment about a state of mind, it is not about you. It’s most likely not even about one specific person. If I’m writing a blog about a topic, it’s probably because numerous, similar experiences with different people have led me to the conclusion I want to discuss.
Last week I posted a blog about a very personal poem I wrote, that once it was published, I was uncomfortable telling people about because of the guessing and the questions and the assumptions that would follow. I’m glad I shared that poem, because the feelings it conveys were and are precious to me. Finally I was able to share that poem, because I’ve realized that there is only so much I can do to control people’s reactions to and understanding of the things I write.
And that’s a good thing. Books, poems, articles, blogs and any shared thoughts from one person should be examined through the eyes of the reader or listener, processed through their own experiences as well as their current situations, and utilized then in the way that most makes sense.
So please…take this blog for what it is. I promise this post isn’t about you.