I’ve been taking a little break from writing — to focus on loving my kids, on visiting real live friends in their real live houses, and on paying attention to some of those projects I’ve been putting off for… years (!?).
Truth (no pun intended) is, I’ve also needed to spend some time examining a perhaps-unethical writing habit I’ve grown fond of: though I’ve endeavored to write the truth on this blog, I’ve conveniently ignored the reality that maybe some truths don’t deserve to see the light of day.
Over-sharing. Paragraphs constructed with punishment of others in mind. A few comments on certain posts have raised flags about my seeming inability to filter between what ought to be said and what ought not. More importantly there is my own conscience, which usually deposits a rock in the pit of my stomach when I’ve written something that really toes the line.
It’s always been a gray area for me. I believe in 100% honesty (because we’re told from a young age to always tell the truth, right?). But I also realize that the truth most often isn’t kind; usually the truth is something that would make you squirm if you saw it in writing.
And shouldn’t kindness be the ultimate goal of a life, especially a Christian life?
Or is truth the goal?
Or is kindness?
Hopefully time and study will help me to sort it all out.
I realize, too, there exists the possibility that my own truth is not necessarily Ultimate Truth — what if, instead, it reads as heresy to those of different viewpoints? My own opinion seems, of course, like common sense and completely obvious truth to me… but perhaps, to the average bystander, it’s really nothing more than my opinion.
Am I one of those people we all make fun of who doesn’t have a good filter between her mind and her mouth? Have I, through my writing, disrespected the (albeit unnamed) members of my various communities? Have I hurt more people than I’ve helped through my so-called writing career? Has my tendency to include risky content in the average blog made me a monster in my hometown? Have I overstepped my bounds with words, dancing roughshod and carelessly on the hearts of readers and subjects? Does my style of writing indicate a willingness to say important things that lesser folks are unwilling to address…
… or does it compare to the lack of self-control (and perhaps the addictive personality) of a drunk writer careening down the road and endangering the public?
Some of my readers would vote yay; others would vote nay. But because I believe wholeheartedly in discipline, I can’t be afraid to assess my own wrongdoing in this or any case and exact the same punishment I would want anyone else to endure.
So if you’ve come to think of me as a menace with a poison pen, know that I have wondered the same of myself. ‘Tis the price, in case you’ve wondered, of writing: there is great power and longevity in words delivered effectively — probably way more power than I deserve (think Hitler) — and that is a responsibility that is heavy on the conscientious heart.
So my verdict is this: I promise not to record a personal opinion in writing, nor a perceived hurt that I may not be seeing clearly, nor an unnecessary detail concerning myself or another, for at least a year. I will cease trying to punish people through my blog. I will cut the cattiness. If I can’t say nothin’ nice, I won’t say anything at all. And probably the world will be better for it.
As for me, surely nothing bad can come of a year of positive thinking and writing, right?
You know, I have within me a mean sense of humor, a temper, and a tendency to bring old hurts out of the recesses of my darkest closet just to keep them alive a little longer. How much am I, as a from-the-heart writer, expected to control these parts of my personality in front of the public? This is the reason that a lot of folks don’t consider blogs to be legitimate outlets for writers: there are no checks and balances here. There is no publisher threatening to pull my paycheck unless I shape up. There is no editor weeding out my more inappropriate content. There is only me, and if I want to be taken seriously as a writer/editor/publisher, probably I ought to practice a little discipline and learn to control my emotions that don’t serve the greater good — in order to protect both my unarmed targets and my own reputation.
And though I tend to very much dislike people who don’t have opinions (I mean, how dull can you be?!), maybe I’ll find in the next year that the opinion-less approach is the secret to life, especially in a small town. The only way to true peace. The actual message the Good Book is trying to get across. What God has intended all along — because an opinion, as you know, is very much akin to judgment.
(Maybe, if you’ve already read it, you can tell that I recently finished The Shack. I found many heart-changing answers within its pages and recommend it a thousand times. I hope to review it here soon.)
I suspect that the opinion-free approach is indeed the secret to my blogging (s)hero Pioneer Woman’s wild success. The masses are clearly comforted by her sweet photos of family dogs, her vague portrayal of ranch life, her proclamations of love for various sports teams, and of course her recipe-sharing…
… much less so by my diatribes on the failings of the public school system, the real challenges of multi-generational ranching, the folly of promoting Santa Claus, the value of stay-at-home parenting, and the reasons behind holding herd before branding. All are subjects sane people don’t bring up in polite conversation.
But, then, I don’t know many sane people. Do you?
One thing is sure: I’m no Pioneer Woman. I don’t love dogs. I’m not vague. I don’t love sports. And I worry that there are too many recipes in the world already.
Okay, that’s my last opinion for a year. Promise. Zipping it now. Jumping on the Behaving Myself Wagon. Surely I will find something nice to write about in the next 12 months.
There is much to consider. The truth is: I’ve considered much already and will continue to do so.
In the meantime…
© Tam Blake
P.S.: I have some interesting news I want to share from Utah, but can’t spill the beans quite yet. Stay tuned.