The craft of writing is often a deeply personal one. In most cases, writing is practiced alone until the editing process begins. Writers pour their souls onto pages, and then what? The obvious answer is to share. But, should that always be the case? After finishing a semester of a nonfiction creative writing class focused on memoir in which I wrote some of the most personal material I’ve ever written, I find myself struggling with this question.
Some argue that our personal lives should remain private. There are certain invisible, blurry lines that separate what is appropriate to share and what is not. Our gross, icky, messy crap gets shoved in the closet, so that all everyone sees is our bed neatly made, our desk cleared, and our giant closet door locked, the key hidden beneath the mattress.
Part of this thought process is generational. Young people today are more comfortable sharing their lives with the world, especially through social media. But writers have been pushing the boundaries of sharing personal information for generations. There is a reason that memoir is one of the most popular and rapidly growing genres today. Readers love to experience other peoples’ stories of pain, loss, hardship, triumph, and growth. It makes them feel understood, connected, hopeful.
I think there is strength and beauty in sharing your not-so-pretty stories. You never know how others will receive them, and there is both fear and joy in that. Although, I’d argue the joy outweighs the fear. Art is meant to be selfless. It is meant to be shared.
Of course, there are bits of writing that I have tucked away, but the great majority of it is public. I write for myself and for the people who may need to hear what I have to say. I believe they exist and that they’re listening.
Julia Kirby, Co-Editor