Sunday, February 18, 2007

Personal Pieces

A couple of weeks ago I did my first nonfiction workshop at school. Weeks before, while trying to decide my topic, I debated with myself about how personal to go. I wanted to go beyond the "I love pink" personal and delve into something deeper and more private. I was bold when I sat alone at home and wrote the piece, but when it got to handing out my papers to 25 people, I began to regret workshopping something that everyone would know about my life. It was too late and no time to revise. I handed out the papers and went with it. I was so, so nervous before the workshop and was taken aback by the support and constructiveness of the comments I received. My second and final workshop is in the middle of March and after workshopping something personal the first round, I've decided to go with that theme again.

How much personal writing are you willing to share with others? Do you have insecurities about publishing details about your life? Or, do you write what you feel and let it go?


April Aragam said...

To be completely honest, I am scared to write about personal things. Not because I am ashamed, but because of how secretive I've been taught to be. I have always been told never to tell anyone anything (especially about my childhood and home life). The stories would probably help others and let them know that they aren't alone, but I can't bring myself to write them let alone have them published yet. I hope one day I feel free to write about my experiences. Right now though, there is that one person, who if they found out, my head would be on the chopping block. Usually I don't give a hoot what others say, but this is just something I've grownup with. It's a complete fear. We aren't supposed to let the truth be known. Ever. Not to protect us, but to protect the feeings of said person. I do believe in keeping people's privacy to a point, but it's also MY life and maybe I shouldn't be held back from sharing my experiences you know. I could always use a pen name, I suppose. I'm not sure a pen name would be satisfactory enough though, in my case.

Jess said...

Hey Jess, I came across your blog the other day when my writing group here in Louisiana had an assignment to research blogs and websites. I'm impressed how much you've accomplished in your young writing life and said so on my blog.

When I was in college, I wrote my first novel in an Independent Studies class. My novel was totally personal. Back then, they called them 'confessional novels' sort of like Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. You can't imagine how thankful I am today that my book was never published. I think with nonfiction writing, you can always include personal things as long as you have a moral or a lesson to be learned, but I'd hesitate to throw myself out there and leave myself hanging without that moral or personal lesson. Anytime we write, we're exposing ourselves, showing the world a little bit of what and who we are.
I've enjoyed reading your blog and visiting your website. Keep it up, and I believe you said you have an agent now. Congratulations. I'm so proud of you. Like that family member who asked if the agent is legit--I think you're savvy enough to have checked the agent out, but do be careful. There are a lot of preditors out there. You know about the Preditors and Editors website, don't you? Anytime, I can encourage you, just email me. You've won a place in my writing heart!

Oh, btw, here's another young person who's accomplishing something.

Best to you!
Another Jess :)

Jessica Burkhart said...

I completely understand, April. I'm going through something of the same nature and thought I want to tell a great story, there's just too much risk of being sued.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Hi, other Jess! :) I read your post and thank you so much for your kind words. You have an excellent blog and I look forward to reading it. Oh yes, I'm quite comfortable with Preditors and Editors. :) Great site, isn't it? Best of luck to you with your writing and I look forward to hearing from you again!