Don’t Assume You Know Me Just Because I’m A Writer

An overhead short of a woman writing in a journal at a busy table with a cup of coffee
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Yes, I write about myself. I write about my life. I write what I know.

That doesn’t mean that we are friends. It doesn’t mean that you understand me. It doesn’t mean that you get to make assumptions about who I am.

In these days of social media, it’s easy to feel familiar with strangers. We give each other glimpses into our personal lives in a way that has never been done before. And yes, indeed, I use my writing to connect and reveal myself to others in a way that hopefully comes across as heartfelt and genuine. I want to be as authentic as possible.

That does not mean I share all of myself. Do I share pieces? Absolutely. At the same time, to think that reading a few articles that someone wrote on a few specific topics gives you the right to decide you completely understand that person is unreasonable. I would never be so arrogant as to think I know who anyone is based on reading their writing. It’s unfair to the person. It’s unfair to the creative process. We as writers need to feel the freedom to express every part of ourselves and to be understood as complicated, multilayered humans, just like anyone else.

I will never let the unwarranted opinions of others change who I am and how I write. I know that entering a creative public forum means that I am subject to criticism, discussion and unfortunately, trolling. That’s the deal. I’m still going to write pieces like this that challenge the idea that you know all of me because you read me.

There’s a fine line between connection and assumption.

To those of you who offer thoughtful, pointed commentary or who honestly empathize with my expression on a personal level, I thank you. To those who try to attack, hurt or otherwise degrade my creative process, I see you. I know you better than you think. I get that you are hurting, that you are angry, that you feel like you’re invisible. I offer up to you the idea that lashing out is not the answer – that in fact it hurts you more than anyone else. Go do something productive. Do something loving – for others or for yourself, if that’s what you need. Live your life. It’s short. Do you really want to look back and realize you wasted it trolling strangers on the internet?

I understand that this is murky territory – after all, much of my appeal to those who do enjoy my writing is that I try to share with stark frankness and raw emotion. It’s not easy to write some of the more personal pieces I put out there. I suppose I could develop a thicker skin, but then my writing will suffer. I refuse to compromise what I do for the sake of my feelings.

Instead, I say this – if you’re talking about me, I must be doing something right. This is who I am, and it’s not going to change. If you don’t like what I say, you have a choice – don’t read it. It’s that simple. I won’t be offended – I know not everyone is going to like me and that’s okay. Agree to disagree and move along. TC mark

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