Being Naked on the Page vs. Tearing off the Clothes of Loved Ones

In a previous post, I proclaimed, “Good writers allow themselves to be seen naked on the page.” I do believe that the best writers are able to express their vulnerability in what they write and that this vulnerability is what makes good writing so good, because it opens a window through which a reader can see parts of himself.

However, I also think that being “naked” on the page does not necessarily mean a writer has to reveal every little detail about a real-life situation. Even memoirists have the right to keep some things private. And I think that we who write about real life especially need to be careful to protect the privacy of those we write about.

It’s one thing to tell all about our own interior life. Our thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc. belong to no one else but ourselves. We should write about these things. We must, if we want our writing to resonate. But when it comes to describing events that have taken place in our lives that include things other people have said or done, we need to consider that even though, as writers, we’ve chosen to live in the public eye to a certain degree, others in our lives have not made this conscious choice, nor should they be forced to by the words we publish. There’s certainly no way to avoid mentioning the important people in our lives. They will appear in our work. But I think we can be naked on the page ourselves without having to rip off the clothes of our friends and family. Continue reading “Being Naked on the Page vs. Tearing off the Clothes of Loved Ones”