“They have names.”

About a month ago, a friend who reads this blog mentioned that the writing left her feeling exposed. I avoid using people’s names for this very reason, to minimize their publicity and maintain a semblance of privacy. You would have to be an insider of sorts to pick up on whom I was talking about.

At the time, someone had asked me to stop writing about her, on the threat of a lawsuit. I did, and it is not that I am brave and daring, but because there is nothing left to write concerning what happened with her for the time being.

She also implied that I was performing, playing to some gallery in an attempt to garner sympathy for what I have now made my story. Master of the Performing Hurts. I think there are far more important things to go after than an aspiring and unknown writer, so maybe it is just as well that the correspondence ended.

I think there are far more important things to go after than an aspiring and unknown writer, so maybe it is just as well that the correspondence ended. I was telling my side of the story, and I did not intend to paint myself as a victim.

Far from that. I had hoped that a conscience and a sincere remorse at my actions would shine through. Then again, you can never tell how your story will be interpreted. The best you can do is be as honest and as clear as possible and then hope that you will be understood.

A downside of minimizing the exposure is that the people I interact with, and consequently write about, come across as interchangeable, easily replaceable characters in the ongoing soap opera that my life has seemingly become. They have no names, so they have no concrete identities and thus no further defining characteristics than being unwitting supporting actors in a personal drama, with me as the central star.

The friend I was talking with expressed her concern that eventually I might write about her, or we, and she may be cast as one of the faceless and nameless people, colourless against my vibrant self. All this raises an interesting conundrum: how do you express yourself as openly and as honestly as you can, maintaining objectivity while injecting the better parts of your personality into your work, and keeping the privacy of the people with whom you share the experiences you write about?

The friend I was talking with expressed her concern that eventually I might write about her, or we, and she may be cast as one of the faceless and nameless people, colourless against my vibrant self. All this raises an interesting conundrum: how do you express yourself as openly and as honestly as you can, maintaining objectivity while injecting the better parts of your personality into your work, and keeping the privacy of the people with whom you share the experiences you write about?

A corollary (somewhat) to this query is this: once someone has expressed no desire in viewing your work, or once you know a particular person does not read your writing anymore, does that now give you greater leeway to write about whatever experiences you both had, to minimize or eliminate any censoring you may have done in the past for some concern or other?

I feel that I have a bit more freedom to explore the episodes (Ha!) I have been a part of, safe in the knowledge that a significant number of the people I was in the situations with (to put it mildly) no longer come back to my work. It is a false knowledge. Time and again, it is displayed that indeed, they do return to my work. This is often shown in the form of terse and very colourful text messages.

There is another delicate balance that comes into play too: how do you not come across as flippant or crass, or overly ironic, or, worst of all, disingenuous? Again, it comes down to being unable to control how your story is translated. You can only monitor the narrative, the message you deliver, not how it is deciphered.

At this point, I have more questions than I have answers and am not even sure I am asking the right questions. With time, I will be able to distill and convey my thoughts better. To a great extent, it is inevitable that the more you express yourself, the clearer your arguments become.

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