Write About What Hurts

There’s a misattributed quote that I’ve seen floating around the internet for years: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Supposedly Ernest Hemingway said that, but I’ve never found a source.

When I decided to finally start this blog last summer, I had very ambitious plans and goals. I wanted to grow this body of work into a platform that I could eventually invite other writers to contribute to and pay them fairly for their work. Somewhere that celebrated the hard and beautiful things about living life in the south in the times we’re in.

I know now that it’s going to be a much longer road to that goal than I originally had envisioned.

I’m still wrestling with questions of propriety around sharing intimate details of my life and my story when I know the people I’m writing about are in the virtual audience.

If I had set out to process my most recent heartbreak and ongoing angst through writing a few decades ago, the subjects might have never known that there was work out in the world that revealed the scabbed-over stories of our time together. They’d have to find the magazine or literary journal or personal ad in the paper and pulled out a phone book and called my landline and hoped I returned their voicemail. They could have sent me a letter with a clipping, begging me to please stop writing about this because what if their new girlfriend or wife sees them reading it with their coffee in the morning and how will he explain that to her? They could see my name in the bookstore someday and know I did what I set out to do, which has always been to write. They could smile, buy a copy and tuck it neatly into a shelf without ever having to read it.

But that’s not the reality I’m living in and it sounds laughable to consider the benign alternate reality that my work and my ex-lovers might exist in.

This is not the piece I wanted to sit down to write today, but I’m not ready. I know I have important things to say and there are women I desperately want to talk to through the piece I wanted to write today, but the work still needs so much more time and edits and cycles before it’s worth the risks. I need more time to process and digest it. Can’t we talk about the whole process?

I know Hemingway never said that silly quote, but it still bugs me. The idea of writing about the hard things and the true things, the burden of sharing, I feel it every day and with it comes the guilt of possible narcissism but simultaneous neglect of my sweet friends/readers who have come to me with gratitude for writing about things they want to read about.

I wish I had a mentor. I emailed my old writing group leader and her inbox was full, my note bounced back to me. I’m too chicken to reach out to any of the other writers I met in Tallahassee, because who would remember me? I have no idea where to look for other writers in Pensacola and my mother thinks I need to “diversify my interests.” I might start taking ballroom dance classes or something.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep coming to the blog and asking you to be patient, to email me if you have an idea of how you’d like to read what I write or you can try to find me on the street and tell me to shut the hell up. 

I really wanted to write something else today. Thanks for reading anyways.