Writers are constantly looking for story ideas and sometimes they are literally right in front of us — when we look into the mirror.
But how much personal information should we reveal? More importantly, what purpose is served by disclosing details about our lives? Will anyone be hurt or embarrassed by our revelations?
I have been pondering those questions for many months. In particular, I have been debating whether to write a follow-up to one of the most popular articles I ever published on my blog. I entered it in the writing contest at Write Stuff and, although I did not win, received complimentary feedback. In The Surprising End of My Innocence, I revealed how, as a naive 21-year-old, I was “played” by a man who claimed to be divorced but was, in reality, very much married.
In telling the story, I omitted many details about myself and other folks, living and now dead. For instance, I did not explain what motivated the main characters and deliberately ended the story without revealing critical events. I have always felt like I “sold out” to some extent because, although I succeeded in explaining how I learned a valuable life lesson, I grew in other ways during that time period and I would like to explore those aspects, as well. Those events impacted me in profound ways and informed many of my subsequent life choices, so I would really like to share some of the details, as much for my own introspective purposes as to entertain or, hopefully, inspire or enlighten my readers — or simply invoke a “me, too” response from some of them.
Unlike many bloggers, I do not write much about day-to-day happenings. In contrast, I tend to write about major occurrences, events, transitions or dilemmas.
What guidelines do you follow with regard to writing about your personal life? Are there topics or areas of interest that are completely off-limits? What factors are most important to you when you consider whether or not to share details about people, places or time periods in your life? And ultimately, how do you decide what and how much to reveal about yourself and the folks you have loved or encountered in your life?