A Writer's Dilemma: The One Issue I Didn't See Coming

writersdilemma.jpg

This week's #CuriouserFave is Kinda Wilson. She's a marketing coach, speaker, and the founder of Travel Chicks. If you're looking to travel Europe on the cheap, then you need Travel Chicks in your life. Kinda is currently writing her second book, which I'm just dying to read. Keep up with Kinda and her incredible adventures here

___________________

I was standing at the back of the auditorium, getting ready to speak in New Mexico awhile back. The announcer walked up on stage, grabbed the microphone, and announced boldly, “Are you guys ready to hear Kinda speak? I’ve told you before, and I’ll say it again, she’s HILARIOUS!” (girls clapping enthusiastically). I could feel my palms gathering moisture. I turned to the youth leader standing next to me. “Ooooh crap. I told her not to say that. I’m not hilarious in person. That’s not me.” She laughed. Of course…the irony. And I wondered how the heck this had all happened.

A weird situation happens when you’re a writer—a nonfiction writer, especially: There’s this dichotomy between who you are in your writing and who you are in real life. It’s the problem of where to draw the line between your real self and the self you choose to serve up on paper to absolute strangers browsing through pages at bookstores. It’s an issue I never expected to face, to be honest with you.

In the beginning, I started out just wanting to write a book to help single girls. And I knew that to do that, I would need to provide a frightening level of honesty in it. I’m not the sort of person to air all of her figurative dirty laundry out on social media; that stuff is reserved for my journal and maybe a few nonjudgmental friends. The world doesn’t need to hear how my BFF drank too much beer and started hitting on my bae. (She wouldn’t do that anyway. Calm down, people.)

But there it was—I told the stories and published the book. And all of a sudden, people could read these words printed in Times New Roman and get a sense of me—the me at a personal level they normally wouldn’t get to see upon first meeting me. It was very intimidating; it still is.

And there’s also this sense that stories don’t necessarily translate into real life; it’s my thoughts seen through a lens of carefully crafted words and well-thought-out prose. I don’t mind people getting a view into my life, but for some reason I don’t want them to think that’s all there is, either. I meet people sometimes and they reference random stories from ten years ago, and I want to say, “That’s not me! That’s some random girl with acne who was a little ticked off! I don’t even recognize her anymore.”

So the next book is coming up, and I look at the stories there. My heart rate quickens a bit, and I have to take a deep breath to not panic. And there is that question again: How much do I tell the world? What level of honesty do I need to share?

How much of me do I have to share, and how much of me do I get to keep?

And beyond that, who will people think I am after they read this? I might be choosing the filter by which people see me for the next several years.

I know certain stories about friends or relationships are off-limits; I wouldn’t go there, period. But where do I get to draw the line between the me I really am and the me I show the world? Is there a point where I can just say, “That’s it; that’s personal. This might help you, but you don’t get to know that about my life”?

How much of me do I have to share, and how much of me do I get to keep?

The question keeps spinning around in my head, and I'm not quite sure I've figured it out just yet.