I read something today that made my heart drop. It was an essay in a popular magazine and while I was reading, I heard the screaming of a dying relationship.
In the piece, the woman was saying how she had never liked children, and now she was dating a man who had a small son. She didn’t love the son. She didn’t even particularly like the son. She resented having to share her time and boyfriend and life with an interloper, and knew that the son felt the same way about her. It was well-written. It was interesting. But when her boyfriend reads it, he’s going to be faced with the realization that everybody and their dog knows his girlfriend wishes that he didn’t have a child. It isn’t between the two of them anymore. This author had invited the world in, and I can only assume that she didn’t ask his permission because the piece was so bitter that I can’t believe he would grant it.
Writers have a tendency to share personal things that others might deem too private to share. This openness is one of our strengths, but I can also see how it’s one of our weaknesses. When are we sharing too much? When are we selfishly trampling over the people that we love (or don’t) in order to get a story?
The lovely Kirsty Logan wrote a beautiful blog post about this very thing. In fact, her post was in the back of my mind while I was reading this painful magazine article, and I thought, “Why, author, why? Why would you do this to this man that you claim to love?” On the other hand, writers write about the world around us. How much privacy should others rightfully expect from us?