… It’s impossible. Sorry. It is. Unless of course you are a soulless beast with no concept of emotional connection or self doubt whatsoever.
So writers will hurt people. It is an accepted problem that, because writers draw from their own experiences and history that it will inevitably hurt those around them. The same, although with a slightly more distant connection, goes for journalism and opinion editorial pieces.
Today I had a piece published that was admittedly a bit abrasive and via edits, reworking, drafts, etc, didn’t really get any less so and maybe lost the in translation of my snark. but I had an actual point which, given the subject, was going to be fairly forgotten. I expected this.
But I didn’t expect it to come across as abrasive as it was and there’s an irony that I commented on naivety and was probably guilty of it myself. I feel a little bad about because I don’t want to contribute to the ongoing problem I myself was commenting upon.
So you have to remember certain things. Firstly that the reason you write is for you. If you are lucky enough to make it a job then that’s great but you write for you. Even if it’s an op-ed that’s a popular/unpopular subject you aren’t (or shouldn’t) be writing to just be reactionary. It’s not becoming and very often is ill researched and makes you look stupid.
But at the same time, you need to be able to write about those things because that’s how the Internet works. People want to publish things that will bring people to read it, abrasive or otherwise. And that’s fine. So as a writer you need to be capable of talking about an issue and maintaining clarity, etc, and be ready to write about it because, that’s how you get paid.
Anyway, the internet works in mysterious ways and any issues will surely be lost to the forgotten realms in a few days. But I felt bad because I’d found out about my abrasiveness from people whose opinions and values I respect. Obviously they told me not to be silly. But still, I feel a little bad and I feel bad for being “preachy” for lack of a better term.
So how do you combat this bad feeling? Well you can’t. Not if you’re human.
Writing is filled with self-doubt because you are putting yourself out there. Imagine turning up to a nudist beach already nude and realising you got the wrong beach. That’s how writing can feel, especially when you relinquish the piece to the publisher. Any piece, that is. The only way to combat that is to be honest, and bullish. Admit when you’re wrong or you have erred but stick to your convictions and stride on to that bitch, grab a towel to cover your bits and act like you don’t care.
The thing is, because you are a human being with emotions and feelings and know that you’ll actually see the faces of the people you hurt, or pass them in the street, then it will feel awful. But if they know or care, they’ll forgive you. Unless you’ve really practically betrayed their trust then they might not but that’s an art vs privacy debate for another conversation.
Anyway, just needed to vocalise my thoughts a little. Carry on, internet.