This post originally appeared on Inside a Dog, where I was a writer in residence for the month of August.
When I started writing, I never expected that my work would be read by anyone. There’s such a negative mentality amongst young writers about the likelihood of our writing ever being read, that I just assumed my work would go unnoticed.
This was a blessing in disguise, as it meant I wrote anything that came to mind without fear of what people would think. When I was twenty-four I wrote a short story about having an operation to have an ileostomy, which is a surgery where they bring a section of your bowel out from your skin and you put a colostomy bag over it.
I didn’t expect the story to get published. When it was, I felt suddenly vulnerable, as I’d put myself out there in a way I never had before. I felt embarrassed about what I’d written and was scared because anyone who wished to read the story would know something so intimate about me.
The story was published in a magazine called Voiceworks, which is a literary magazine that features work of writers under 25. After it was published, I had a few people message me saying that they really loved the story and that they appreciated the honesty.
I learned quickly that there was no danger in sending this story out for publication. I felt oddly empowered having my ‘vulnerabilities’ out there, because now I was taking ownership over them. If I hid them away, then they would take on ‘shameful’ connotations. Yet, if I wrote about them, they were been translated into something empowering – at least the way I saw it.
As I’ve been blogging, I’ve taken on a similar philosophy, in that I will share a lot of my ‘vulnerabilities’ and secret emotions. What I’ve discovered is that these emotions and experiences aren’t unique to me.
When I started receiving encouraging comments and messages about how much people could relate to the posts, I began to wonder why I ever felt possessive over these experiences. I’m not particularly possessive of my possessions, so why am I of my experiences? These are just experiences I’ve been present for. They’re not ‘mine’. These are experiences of being alive, which we all share. So why not talk about it?
Of course, writing these sorts of posts isn’t for everyone. But, for me, I don’t mind. On a side note, though, I would never write, whether in a post or in fiction, about another person’s life. All my characters are fictional. I don’t think it’s okay to talk about another’s personal life.