I am lucky to have several very close friends that I can tell anything to and who won’t judge me or think I’m crazy. They will be there when I need them, and vice versa. So, you would think that I would be able to be honest with them at all times, or so I thought. I recently had a conversation with one of my close friends about a party she threw and how I was not happy with whom she sat me next to, as well as some other things. She was mad and offended. I had not told her how I felt because it wasn’t worth it. The party was over and done and that was that. But then I wrote about it and she read about it and then the shit hit the fan. She called me and chewed me out. I had not mentioned her name or given a lot of details in the story, so nobody close to me could really know who the story was about, but my friend was livid just the same.
Of course, I apologized profusely that I hurt her. That was not my intention. She argued that she had good reason to seat that certain gentleman next to me and made me feel like I was just…well…a bitch. She then intimated that I should not write bad things about people and she stuck the knife in further with her final comment, “What’s more important, your friendship or some story?” Ouch!
I got off the phone feeling the proverbial dog with its tail between its legs. My stomach started to churn as I began an internal assessment about what just happened. Was what I did really that terrible? And here is where I realized – SOMETIMES BEING A WRITER REALLY SUCKS.
I thought to myself, “How do writers deal with people being offended when they are written about?” Candace Bushnell said that her characters from “Sex and the City” were based on friends and their experiences too. She certainly wrote about some raunchy topics and naughty behavior. How did she handle that? Did her friends come after her with pitchforks and torches? How about all of those writers who talk about their dysfunctional families and terrible parents? What becomes of them? I found it hilarious and very human when Jenny Lawson talked about her husband and his idiosyncrasies in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. “Good for you!” I said.
When did everyone get so damn sensitive? I am a sarcastic writer and I love satirical wit. I admit that I have been known to go too far when it comes to my sarcasm, but I am trying to be better about that. I embellish on my stories to make them more interesting, as many writers do, but they are based on my real experiences. I can understand those who don’t know me judging me and ripping me apart because, let’s face it, some people are just plain mean, but when a close friend rips me a new one simply because I wrote that I did not enjoy her event, well, what’s a gal to do? I must clarify that nowhere in the story did I say anything negative about my friend’s personality or was sarcastic towards her character as a person, so what’s the big deal?
Maybe my friend felt a loss of control because I am writing my opinion and not hers, therefore she feels people are getting the wrong impression and aren’t getting the “real” story. But what is a real story? I am not a news reporter. I am not a journalist, writing an investigative report. There are “facts” that I have to run by an editor. The idea that I think something is lame or that someone is being a douche is my opinion, and that’s all. When I wrote about this event, I knew she might read it. I hope she knows that I was being sensitive to that.
They say you should “write what you know.” Well, what I know best is my life and the people in it. I will never be a sci-fi writer, joyfully creating aliens and other worlds. I will not be going back in time, fabricating a Jane Eyre-esque heroine. That’s just not me. Considering the anger I got from my friend, maybe I should consider it. Hmmm…..
Funny enough, my husband doesn’t get offended at all from my stories. He has a similar sense of humor to me, and a thick skin, thank God. When I write that he is noisy, or whines or that there are times I don’t want to have sex with him because I’m tired, he doesn’t take it as a personal attack. I sure do appreciate that about him.
This is my life. This is my point of view. I have a right to my point of view. Believe me, I read and reread and read again what I am writing with a scrutinizing judgment, knowing full well that people I write about will be reading my words. If I write about intimate details about a person, I change their name and scenario enough that even they might not know that the story is about them! My stories are mostly fun and light. I don’t believe in hate. Sometimes, I get angry and frustrated and writing is my therapy, my way of getting it out. (Just read my book about my dating life when I was single and you’ll see what I mean!)
I hope that people will respect my opinion and let me be heard, just as I let them tell me what they think, even if I disagree or don’t like what they have to say. I am a bit battered and bruised, but this will not stop me from writing my words and point of view.
It’s called Freedom of Speech and this is America. Huzzah!