So I did it. I took a deep breath, bit the bullet, [insert additional cliche here], and shared my blog to Facebook. I've been putting it off, copping out, and sharing my posts to Google+, you know, for the five people who are still on there. (Don't tell my husband I said that.) But I've held off on Facebook because I didn't want to edit myself (note: This is impossible, apparently. I chickened out and took one post down before I shared it.) My previous blog was read by friends and family, and I sometimes felt limited by that knowledge. So my hope was that by keeping my musings on the DL (I can't believe I just typed that) I would get all loosey goosey (or that) and talk about things that were actually important to me in an honest and open (translation: potentially offensive) way. So far so good. But now, this is the first post I've written with the knowledge that it may actually be read by someone I know. A whole new ballgame. (I'm going crazy with the cliches today. I'll make it a theme. Ok, here goes.) So now it's time to pull the cord, rip off the band-aid, jump in with both feet....
But seriously, this does relate to something that has always bothered me -- and every other writer on the planet who isn't an orphaned hermit living in Antartica -- how do I deal with knowing my audience? As a writer, you get all kinds of conflicting advice: Know your audience. Write for yourself. Don't think about your mother reading this. (I may have just added that last one.) What if someone you know reads your fiction and imagines themselves as a model for one your characters? What if someone mistakenly assumes the story is your story? What if an acquaintance reads your writing and decides you're a deviant? What if your mom reads something you wrote and disowns you? (Just kidding, Mom.) How do you shut those voices out of your head while you're already doing something incredibly difficult -- a.k.a. opening a vein and bleeding on the page?
And it's not like I don't already have tons of voices in my head --former professors, writing friends, advice I've read -- so now let's add the cocked eyebrows and turned down mouths of every disapproving soul who clicks on my blog link or (hopefully some day) reads my stories. I'm talking about the people who not only don't think you can write, but also the ones who (heaven forbid) disagree with you, and not in a let's-have-a-great-discussion-about-this kind of way. I'm talking about those people for whom everything is a moral judgement. People who don't read/watch/expose themselves to anything that goes counter to their worldview. And what if they are people you actually care about?
I know. I'm asking a lot of questions and giving few answers (okay, none.) I can't tell you how to deal with this question as a writer. I certainly don't have it all figured out, but I can tell you how I'm working to combat it presently. It's a little thing I'm going to call WWSD. (My originality is overwhelming you right now, isn't it?) I won't insult your intelligence by explaining what the Ws and the D stand for, but I will clarify that the S is for my husband. He may be a quiet and gentle soul, but I can't think of anyone more genuine. He doesn't edit himself for people, not his speech, his personality, or his opinions, and he somehow manages to never be horrified or embarrassed by mine. (Or at least he doesn't show it, which is even more miraculous.) I also have a dear writer friend who is more fearless than me by miles and miles. So I try to think about them when I write. Would they be shocked and horrified by me and my thoughts? Would they care if someone else was? Probably not.
As I near the end of this post, I immediately start reviewing it in my head. Did I leave out a damn or smooth over a touchy point? Did I forget to mention that some of my stories have sexual content? I'd like to think no, but I'm probably kidding myself. But I'm going to try to do better. Every time. Every post.