My fellow Debs have spoken a lot this week about getting tempted away from writing when it’s just the thing you should be doing. But what happens when you are tempted to write something you absolutely know you shouldn’t?
Writers have a lot of power. We have the ability to immortalize our loved ones on paper, or bash those we don’t particularly like (in fictionalized accounts, of course). We can, with the stroke of the keyboard, reframe a scenario exactly to our liking. Our words can determine the bad guy from the protagonist. They can cast a complicated person in an uncomplicated light, and vice versa.
But with great power, of course, comes great responsibility. Whenever anything interesting happens to me–a funny phone call, an awkward hug–I want to write about it. And when something happens to somebody I know and love, I’m even more tempted to get it onto the page. This is how writers think and process information, after all. We need to write out stories in order to understand them.
The temptation of writing about something personal, especially if it involves someone else, must be weighed against the possible costs. Will this person ever read the piece? If so, how would he react to his portrayal? Does this person trust you? Will she still, after reading your work?
You might be tempted to write your mother as the character in your next novel, or blog about your husband after an especially gruesome argument. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. You’re writing what you know. But it’s important to also keep in mind that there are other players at work. And just because you are tempted to write about them, doesn’t mean they will be keen on being written about.
So sometimes, no matter how deep and primal the urge to write about your loved ones, you might need to take a pass. It’s tempting, I know. Bur remember, more often than not, your relationships are worth more than your writing.
Ever been tempted to write about family or loved ones? Do you go for it, or try to keep the peace by staying quiet?
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