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Thoughts on Writing and Being Careful

I read a piece on how to write courageous memoir and came away understanding why my book of essays is never likely to sell. Memoir needs to pull no punches. To succeed at memoir, one has to be willing to offend relatives and friends. All those things which are politely not said need to be on display. I see what the article meant because I’ve read some careful memoir and I was constantly wishing I could have the whole story instead of the pieces I was given.

I am careful when I write, because words are like knives. If I leave them laying around carelessly they have the ability to cut long after I’ve moved on to something else. Sometimes things need to be cut, this is what knives are for, but no one wants to cut carelessly. When I write I follow an oath similar to a doctors, first do no harm. I can’t succeed of course. We are all of us causing offense every day of our lives without even meaning to. Just two days ago the guy behind me in his truck flipped me off because I chose to stomp the brake instead of the gas at a yellow light. I will offend. Sometimes my words will wound even when I don’t mean them to. Yet I can do my best to wield my words carefully, aim my cuts precisely, and reduce collateral damage.

It may be denial, but I have to believe that I can be careful with my words and still write things that are powerful. I have to believe that just because something I write is not easily marketable, it still can find an audience of people who both love it and need it. The spiritual guidance I receive seems to support this idea. I know that Stepping Stones was important, is important. I felt that when I was writing it. The multi-dozen rejections it has had since then do not change that. However my logic brain is also wary, because God’s idea of important may be very different than mine. I want important to mean that it goes out into the world and inspires people. It is possible that the real importance is that writing the book changed me.

So this turns out to be yet another post in which I ramble to myself in a way that justifies me continuing to write. I wanted to write something else, but these thoughts were on top and needed to be written before I could get to whatever comes next.

4 comments to Thoughts on Writing and Being Careful

  • Ketira

    I don’t think it’s “rambling”; one never knows when one’s work will inspire someone. I doubt Issac Asimov ever thought his book 2001 would become a movie, or his short work The Nine Thousand Names of God would end up in a textbook for an English Honors class.

    So write on, Sandra; you may yet inspire someone young to start writing!

  • I needed these words to reach me today.

    I was thinking about reminding someone of a promise they made that remains unfilled two years later. After reading this, I realize I ruffle enough feathers without trying to so it’d be a waste of my precious energy to intentionally send a fox into the henhouse.