When People Read What You Write

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One of the very interesting things about blogging is having conversations with people who have read something you wrote. It is always a compliment that someone has read my words but, sometimes, it's a conversation that can be awkward to have.

The piece I wrote recently about being suicidal had a strong response within my friends. I had a few people approach me to talk about it and I had never been so popular for lunch plans at work than I was the 2 weeks following that post. I had friends texting me, and some who were reduced to tears in my presence advising that I was their equivalent of family, and they would be devastated if I were to go.

These conversations are often harder to have than writing and publishing the piece. It's easy to bare your innermost thoughts to strangers, it's far harder to open your mind to your friends. To have someone look into your eyes as you confess these things.

Why is that?

I feel it's a result of the society we live in. We don't show weakness, or unhappiness, except for the socially acceptable kind of being too busy and too stressed. We don't talk about the hard parts of marriage, parenthood, or life in general except to a select few. Yet for some reason we are comfortable broadcasting this information on the internet, not always through blog posts but through Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram.

I have often heard it said that Facebook is where you lie to your friends, and Twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers.

I feel my blog sits somewhere in the middle of friends and strangers, and yet firmly in the truth telling camp.

Every post I write has to be considered from so many points of view. So many different ways to interpret my words, and also by so many people I know. My family, my friends. Family members who wouldn't normally know these things about me are now given unrestricted access to my deepest fears, my innermost ponderings, and the truth about so many aspects of my life I'd never say out loud.

It's an odd thing to have someone approach you and tell you they read something you wrote. Sometimes it can open doors to conversations we should all be having, admissions we should all be making. And the ability to bring down the veil and see things as they truly are.

I love writing. But more than that, I love having people read the things I write.

Have you ever had someone approach you over something you wrote online? Do you like it when people read the things you write? Do you censor yourself online with your audience in mind?

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  • Gary

    I was in a restaurant once and someone who reads YummyLummy.com came up and said they liked what I write. On my hospital day after I shared some clinical advice with a junior medical officer about a bacteraemic patient patient I was asked about a good restaurant to dine at because of the blog. Those sorts of interactions make my day. There really are flesh and blood people who read what I write.
    I do self censor a lot. I work for Australian Government and am conscious that the Code of Conduct applies at all times including social media :-)

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      It’s a strange thing connecting the numbers in your stats to flesh and blood people, isn’t it?

      • Gary

        It’s fantastic. It gives me a real boost.

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    Blogging is such an unusual art-form — and I do think it’s an art-form, especially for personal bloggers — because any form of self-expression is an art-form. But it differs from many other art-forms because it is so personal and exposing.

    In so many art-forms, we expose ourselves in abstract ways — painting or poetry or dance — blogging is more like painting a self-portrait, or series of selfies, or writing an autobiography — you put yourself out there for all to see…

    I like to say that I blog for therapy and creativity — I try not to write for my readers — I write for myself. But when a reader connects to something I’ve written — if I open their minds to something they’ve never realised before, it’s a great feeling.

    I also think, as an aspiring writer, the act of blogging is helping me with my self-expression and creativity. I mean, how can I write honestly about the characters in my books if I can’t write honestly about myself. If I can’t show my life “warts and all” in my blogging, how can create realistic and truthful characters…

    And it’s interesting how many ideas — from the blogs I write and the blogs I read — are ending up in my books, both thematically, and in the characters I’m creating…

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Definitely agree about it being an art-form, but I’m not sure I’d agree it’s unusual in that sense. Painting always says a lot about the painter, a lot more than they’re usually willing to say.

      They often say you can’t write a book if you have no life experience, and the reason is exactly what you’ve said – the characters and situations are influenced by your experiences and the world around you. Mind you, the people who say that have never met anyone with a wild imagination 😉

    • 26 Years & Counting

      I like that tie in with your creativity & honesty, really good point.

  • Melissa Savage

    When I wrote that long piece about me and Jelly and how we met and religion, I got masses of feedback everywhere, it was insane. I even got a text from my cousin saying how she loved it because she learned more about me than she ever knew, and she was waiting for the next instalment. Months later, someone I barely knew came up to me at church and tell me they liked it.

    It’s confronting though; I’ve never tackled such a personal topic again, because any personal topic involves family members, and I am not as close to them as I am Jelly, so there’s more likely to be fallout, which I’m keen to avoid.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      I hear you! I’d love to write a piece about how I came to acquire, and then give up, a dog and how much I loved him. But I can’t explain why I gave him up without telling things about other people, and the backlash would be terrible. So all I say is I had a dog, and now I don’t, and I still love him.

  • Monique Fischle

    I don’t mind if strangers read what I write, but when it’s people I know and they talk to me about it, I feel a little weird. It’s nice that they read it and when they tell me they liked it I feel flattered, but it’s a bit strange.

    One of the reasons I haven’t written as much recently is not because I don’t have anything to say, I have plenty, but because it can involve others and because I don’t want certain people to read it. There are some things that are just too personal to write about.

  • Sally

    On the weekend someone I knew, a friend, read what I wrote here on KK&T and said the most wonderfully supportive things, which I knew she would because that’s the kind of person she is. However, now that I’m an “out-and-proud” writer (so to speak – everyone on FB now knows I blog), I am a bit scared. I know people who will read what I write and use it as reasons to criticize me. I know people who will read my post on anxiety and having a crisis plan and think that I’m weak. I must admit, I’m a little frightened about what will happen if those people ever approach me to talk about my writing, but I also know that I have the support of some pretty incredible people so that’s what I hold on to.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I don’t really share my blogging life with my personal life (for complicated reasons). The closest I’ve come is running into people I talk to online at ProBlogger :)

  • http://www.kyliepurtell.com/ Kylie Purtell, A Study in Cont

    I always get a little surprise when someone says they read my blog, and I almost feel a little embarrassed when it’s an offline friend or family member. I don’t know why, but even after 5 years I forget that people I know do actually read it, it’s not just people I know via a screen and therefore, as you say, don’t have to look in the eye. I’m much more honest about how I’m feeling about things and how things are going in terms of motherhood via the blog than in person, it’s just easier.

    I definitely find it easier to write my thoughts and feelings than to speak them face to face. I’ve always been like this, even before the internet. When I had something that I needed to say to Mum, or one of my sisters or friends, I almost always wrote them a letter, and implored them to reply to me via letter as well. For some reason I’ve always felt much more comfortable expressing my truths via writing than speaking and face-to-face, so I guess it was inevitable that I’d end up a blogger!

    • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

      Oh yeah – I’m much better expressing myself in a letter than face-to-face…

      Probably explains why we blog… :)

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Yes!! I always did too. Every fight I’ve ever had with my best friend was via notes, usually passed back and forth during a class of some kind.

  • A Blog Called Henry

    I’ve only just started blogging (for me, I’ve blogged for others about boring topics and I don’t think that counts) and I am so surprised when I get a comment (and very chuffed also)! I have only told four people so far about my blog so far…and one of those is my mum & she is yet to comment (I am not sure she knows how…)
    I do tend to bang on a bit so I am reluctant to share with my ‘real life’ friends. I am not sure what I am so scared of, but giving someone a look into how your (sometimes crazy) brain works is really hard.

    I hope that I don’t censor myself, but I guess by not sharing more of ME I kind of already am…

  • Moi

    I’ve had quite the opposite scenario where I write about personal things on my blog but my dad has never read it and my uncle boasts that he doesn’t read blogs. I presume they simply don’t understand what it means to me although my goodness you’d have to be a lump of stone. I live with a severe medical condition and I actually don’t mention it a lot on my blog and if you were to read through my posts, you might actually believe that I’m into extreme sports. I don’t tell them much anymore and have shut down a bit in general because I now figure if someone wants to know me, they’re at least look at the photos. There comes a point where being too busy is no longer an excuse. As I write this comment on the fly, it’s taken my kids over half an hour to empty half the dishwasher each. I just noticed Sally’s 20 songs to lift your mood. I’d better have a look. Thanks for the vent. Obviously, had to post this as a guest.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Hope you’re feeling better and Maree’s playlist has helped! It can be really hard when people in your life don’t acknowledge or display an interest in the things you do. Always here for a vent xx

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