Hanging it all out to dry

Writing autobiographical material is a bit of a tricksy business. We are rather beholden to tell something of the truth, though heaven knows that can be rather difficult, both to discover and to articulate. Entertainment value also supposes that we have to write something interesting, kinda, avoiding narcissism and voyeurism on the way. And, I suppose, we run the risk of offending whomever we mention in passing, if our portrayals are unkind, thoughtless or incorrect.

Writing “Trapped” is, by far, the most difficult thing I have done: relentlessly exorcising demons, re-examining every facet of life as I have lived it and understood it, and taking responsibility for many parts where I could have done better, been more kind, generous and especially, more aware of what others had to tolerate. Writing has allowed me to offer an apology, of sorts, and to meet and make up with friends and family, before it was too late. I am so glad I took that chance. I am so glad.

With hindsight, I also suspect that one reason I started writing was to demonstrate that, clearly, the world is very much kinder to me than I have hitherto been to myself. In that sense, there has never been anything to worry about. If only because publication brings friends and readers who are constantly generous, loving, thoughtful and supportive, writing has already worked wonders. I have harboured many fears – and I am sure many writers do – some of which we commit to paper, read through and then launch on an unsuspecting public amidst a sea of doubt. We fear the clamour of disapproval. Waiting fearfully for the backlash….blessed approval or silence answers.

Constantly seeking reassurance, perhaps writers habitually focus on critiques which are muted or less than stellar. We receive fulsome and genuine praise from all quarters, yet the comment we focus on is the lone voice which ‘damns with faint praise’. Many of us do this, I am sure, and I have decided to stop. Focussing too much on the critical critic is perverse, ridiculous, and completely ignores the truth that all opinions are valuable, and some have benefits that I will never notice or understand. I let it be, and write when I can.

Self-portrait - Orpen
Self-portrait – Orpen


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