Naming Names comes up again

One of my fearless, peerless writers just turned me down.  I invited him to post an essay he’d written on being trapped with smokers as part of his job. His words evoked so vividly the world before smoking bans, you could practically smell it.

But I can’t share the essay with you, because the writer is a consummate professional who, even years after retirement, won’t go public with that story because his old boss might see it and perceive that he is cast in an unfavorable light. Out of respect for that one man’s feelings, the essay stays private.

I get it, so I won’t pressure him to share it, even though I think it’s a great piece of writing. I’d like to show you this fine example of documenting social history through our personal experiences.  But naming names is hazardous stuff. Even naming recognizable events takes us into the territory of risk.

I’m dealing with it myself. I’ve stayed with posting my modest little childhood stories so far, to avoid dealing with whether I’m ready to go public with the stories that get darker as I get older. I hope I’m going to get bolder. We’ll see.

I’ve done some stuff that makes me feel like this picture. I’ve done some stuff that would make other people feel like this picture if they read about it.

Face it–writing about real life can get real messy.

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About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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