You might only have one chance to make the right not write impression.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Are Some Things Better Left Unsaid?

How do you know when you should keep some things to yourself without being a recluse and share other things without looking foolish? There is a fine line between the two when it comes to writing and so I will take this time to explain.

You see, when I write I have my boundaries I will not cross. If I know a person and he or she is in my inner circle I will tell a story using fictional names and in some cases change the situation a bit. I don't feel it is necessary to share specific details about the person I know since the story is all the reader is really after. As for the person who the story is about, they will feel naked, exposed, even insulted that I would actually share such details about their life. Of course he or she would, because they know who I am talking about. At first it seems like a shock, "how dare you put my business out in the street?" But in time it wears off.

I have been writing stories about people since the sixth grade. I will never forget the short stories I use to write about certain classmates and how I would change their names making a guessing game out of who the story was about. Back then, my classmates got a kick out of it. There were times that some people were offended even as young as we were (11, 12), but they got over it. Especially if it meant that a cute boy or girl liked them. It just meant that they would have to dress better, act better, etc. I was selective about the stories I told and not everything was meant to be said. Anyway, as an adult, I know what I won't discuss when it comes to certain subjects and even I have my limitations. For example, I will not discuss a topic I am not completely comfortable. I will avoid subject matter that is so revealing that it could possibly put someone in a mental ward, jail, break up a relationship, or destroy some other aspect of their life. I also won't talk about subjects I know nothing about unless I have specific information from experts to back up what I am saying.

I enjoy writing about parenting issues, relationships, and other topics related to lifestyle. But what I try to stay away from, unless someone specifically requests I write about it are the following: politics, racial topics outside my own unless I have a personal experience, and religions outside of Christianity. The way I see it there are plenty of people who are passionate enough about these subjects that they can write about them.

I personally believe that for every negative situation that has happened in my life, God has called me to share certain experiences that directly or indirectly affect me. I feel that I am called to help people who simply can't speak for themselves, aren't knowledgeable enough to write about issues that affect them, or just don't want to be bothered with the negative comments that come from writing. Oh I have had my share of negative, ignorant, downright bold statements, and even threats as a result of some of the things I have written about, especially having worked as an Editor in Chief of a college newspaper. I believe that reading audience is the worse! They don't spare your feelings about anything! But I have also had some very positive and life changing stories told to me due to subjects I write about as well.

I have also noticed some things that readers who read my work need to be mindful of and that is when you are making comments about the things you read, some things are better left unsaid just like some subjects are better left not written about as I discussed earlier. The truth of the matter is an article cannot cover all sides, all people, all opinions, and all experiences, because if it did you would be reading a book not an article.

The quickest way to show your true ignorance, readers, about a subject is to say something like, "What about..." What about is usually followed by the other side of an issue that has nothing to do with the subject matter. For instance, if the article is about "Things Women Hate About Men," why would men comment that the article is so one-sided? Another concern some one brought to my attention is "Why do you talk about all the negative issues in your articles, what about the positives?" That's because most of my articles are the kind that solve problems. So why would I talk about how everything is wonderful and nice when that has nothing to do with the problem that the article is trying to solve. I usually provide advice in my articles so that would cover the "positive" spin to the article. Take for instance an article on "Why Husbands Should Be more Supportive of their Wives" this would be considered an editorial piece or possibly a self-help work because of the question "why" in the title. Immediately you know from reading this title that there will be many problems listed in the article and what men should do to solve those problems. If you are a man who isn't interested in problem solving in your own relationship, you would stay away from an article like this, because you know at some point it will offend you.

So is everything worth writing about? Sure. But should you write about everything? It depends. If the goal is to help, I find the more detail the better, if you have to protect some of the people involved but still feel the need to tell the story do so! However, anticipate the phone will ring or some one might visit just be prepared to defend your argument!

Nicholl McGuire