Authentic Writing Is Inherently Confessional

ds9I’ve been watching Deep Space Nine and in the episode that just finished, Jake Sisko writes an article detailing his cowardice under fire. It was a deeply personal article that exposed him in a way that few have the courage to do.

I understand that all too well. My last blog was a confessional of sort. It was deeply personal. Too personal. I revealed things that I’ve come to regret. Things that delved too far into myself and blurred the lines between online and real-life to my personal detriment.

It didn’t seem that way at first. It seemed cathartic and therapeutic. I had hundreds of followers, though only a handful of people who commented regularly. Each post went further, pushed the boundaries harder, and then one day, it all changed. I began to resist. I started to feel like a spectator sport. As if it were Keeping Up With Me rather than Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

My life was a spectacle on display for a group of strangers. I’d gone too far. I’d crossed that invisible line from expression into spectacle. And it all exploded in my face.

This blog is not, by definition, confessional. I prefer it that way. However, the thing I’ve come to see is that for writing to be authentic, you must invest yourself emotionally in it.

confessionalHow can you share your convictions on any topic without revealing a bit of yourself? How can you discuss in detail anything of import or impact if you are unwilling to share the back story of why this is so important to you?

But, where is the line?

I find I struggle over many of the things I decide to write about. Questions like “will this affect my professional reputation?” or “If my real identity were discovered, would this be a problem?” bounce around my head. I have to answer them before I can write on any topic that I think might be controversial. Even writing this post has taken two days.

I’m getting to a point where I feel comfortable with the things I write. However, I sometimes feel a wall between myself and my topic. There are things I’m simply unwilling to reveal. They are private. That is my right, but I don’t want to be holding back out of fear either.

My last blog felt like ripping my skin off every time I put words on the screen. I bled ink daily. I have scars from it. I don’t want that again.

This blog doesn’t draw the same level of interest and interaction.  Maybe what I write just isn’t interesting enough to draw anyone in. And, that’s fine. But it makes me wonder why sordid details draw people like magnets the same way accidents causes us all to slow down and gawk when we drive by, and how the number of YouTube hits rise exponentially on footage of tragedy.

Here in the blogosphere, it seems like you either have to be really funny or really tragic to draw people in. In that spectrum, I fall somewhere in between. I’m no comedian, nor will I ever be. If you want that check out Sweet Mother, she’s great. My life isn’t full of driving existential challenges. Check out Raising My Rainbow or Black Box Warnings for that. My dysfunctions are of my own making and have no place on my professional blog which is what this is.

Image of CrossroadsThat being said, I believe the underlying reason we all blog is connection. At this point, I’m wondering if I’ll continue. Maybe, this just isn’t for me. I don’t want to simply take up space here in WP land. If I’m not contributing anything of real value, I’m not sure there’s a point to being here. My books will either find their audience or they won’t. I’m not about to start doling out writing advice when I’m still figuring it out myself. And my personal life, is well, personal.

Whatever the answer is, when I figure it out, I’ll know which road to take.

24 thoughts on “Authentic Writing Is Inherently Confessional

  1. where is that line again? The line to cross when you are not anonymous here in WP? I think this place is like a sandbox – a playground. It’s recess for the mind. Anonymity makes that true for me because I don’t have to censor myself as I do in real life interaction. Sometimes I should censor myself more but that is the gem – making mistakes of exposure. it releases something wild into the mix and some beautiful connections, realizations and resolutions usually come of it. It’s a strange thing. I bet you could live without a professional blog – that’s work to me unless it is more of a hobby than a job. Could you live without even dabbling in this writing playground? I could if I dove back into the real world 100% but I would miss it…and I would miss your words too. Jayne

    • Lady Jayne, it’s always a pleasure to see you. Writing, even this blog, is never work for me. I have a job. The issue I’m struggling with is finding my voice.

      *sigh*

      I’m just in a reflective mood today I guess. Being published in this fashion, I’m not truly anonymous. I have to attach my face here at some level so it’s different than it was. That changes the dynamic.

      Does that make sense?

      • It makes complete sense. I think you lose your exploring compass when you become “known” -aka judged. That’s how I see it. When you have to be concerned with WHO you are instead of WHERE you are, it changed what you write dramatically. It isn’t easy jumping off a cliff and trying to keep your hair looking good while doing it – it’s impossible.

          • and may I add, anonymity allows me to make stupid comments without hesitation – “stupid” has many levels and exploring them is part of my process to understanding what holds validity. Sometimes the stupid, uncensored comment hold a nugget of gold I would have never seen had I been concerned with what I say. I have to say that the more authenticity a post has or the more feeling in the story hold a spark of creative motion that can start a chain of thinking events in my head. That is fact and that is what has me addicted to reading here.

  2. AND – by your title alone, the word “confessional”, to me, made me think of the wall between the parishioner and the priest – anonymity for reasons to feel less judged?? I don’t know the factual history of that, I just recognized how it relates to my own 2 cents here.

  3. I love what you posted-I think as regular bloggers people go through this and then bounce back-and I do understand what you are saying-I think it’s one of the reasons why I stay so busy-so I don;t over blog and get “that feeling” but on the other hand-I have followeed people who have typed in less than a paragraph and I have been touched so deeply that the feeling last for a week-what may not even seem important to the writer can be a big deal for the reader-and personally I know it looks like gluttony for attention but in reality I do see it more as self introspection

    • Thank you. I admit to be narcissistic enough that when someone comments it makes me feel really good.

      You raise a great point on not knowing the value of what you write for the reader. It’s funny, thought, sometimes, it feels extremely egotistical and I think “why the hell should anyone care?”

      Thank you, so much, for stopping by!

  4. This post really resonates with me. I recently started a blog, kinkyinthecity.wordpress.com, only 5 weeks ago and it is a very honest and open account of my kinky sex life for all to see in detail. I started the blog because I’ve always wanted to write but have never ventured down that path. I also have some very salacious sexual experiences to tell that are part of my new life now that I know there is an audience for. At the same time I too struggle with how much of “myself” do I reveal? I’m writing under a pseudonym, but that’s not what I’m referring to. I write down my thought process at times and this can at times be funny and at other times make me feel far too vulnerable. And then there is how I’m feeling. So sometimes I pull back a bit because some of my friends know this is me, and some of the people in my stories are close to me and I don’t want to reveal exactly how much I care for them because it isn’t reciprocated. This last point is in reference to one young man in particular.

    I’m learning as I progress, feeling my way forward and in a way liberating myself from the social structures society insistently label us with. I’m sure I’m judged by many who read my blog. But I know my blog does not define me. It is just one small aspect of me and my current lifestyle. I do keep the rest of my life very separate from the blog. I focus solely on the topic at hand and do my best to keep it real, funny, sexy and damn hot. Because that is what makes it worthwhile and fun for me, at this stage anyway. I keep the rest of my life completely separate.

    • Welcome both to my blog and to WordPress! I understand where you’re coming from. From experience, I would say, define your boundaries early and stick with them. It will help you maintain your sanity in the long term.

      All the best!

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