jmgoyder

wings and things

Self-censorship

on September 13, 2013

During the time I taught creative writing units at the university, I remember saying to the students, “Just pretend your parents aren’t looking over your shoulder and write freely; don’t censor yourself!” This was very effective in some ways (a lot of powerful writing was produced), but it was also problematic in that sometimes I would become privy to secrets never shared before. So, over time (I taught for nearly 20 years), I changed my instructions to, “There will be no gutspill please!”

Well, blogging is now a well-established form of published writing and self-censorship is probably a conundrum that many bloggers wrestle with. When I began my blog here on WordPress, I used my own name but, in an attempt to be semi-anonymous and private, I called Ming, ‘Son’ and Anthony ‘Husband’. Eventually I began calling them by their real names (with their permission) and I felt comfortable doing so despite some of our situations being uncomfortable.

This week I have had the self-censorship wrestle with myself, yet again, because I was writing about Ming, and I realized that maybe the issues we were having were better kept within our little household. So I deleted two posts (realizing of course that they are still readable via email notification but I offed them from the blog).

But yesterday’s post deletion (my 3rd in two days – how embarrassing) was different. In that post I had related an anecdote that could have been misconstrued as black humor about an issue that is, and never will be, funny. I didn’t receive any negative comments, but I still felt a bit yucky about my anecdote; hence the deletion.

Today, I discovered a blogger whose experience with grief and loss is so profound that it took my breath away. I am yet to make contact with her, beyond following her blog today, but I want to because she has drawn my attention to issues I didn’t want to recognize, not just in my own life, but in the general community.

I am glad I deleted that post.

PS. Internet is only working spasmodically until new modem is figured out.


47 responses to “Self-censorship

  1. Sometimes all it takes is seeing another prespective to change our own and it can happen so quickly, isn’t it crazy how that works? I am always here for you Jules.:)

  2. Victoria says:

    as a big deleter of posts ‘the morning after’, i think we have to be sensitive to people’s feelings and desire for privacy. it’s easy to be ‘out there’ and ‘up front’, but harder to put oneself in other people’s shoes.

    it’s also very hard to interpret or ‘second guess’ others inner thoughts.

    finding that fine balance in blogging is no less difficult than finding balance in our real lives. compassion and treating strangers with loving kindness is just as important as self love and integrity in our own lives.

    but no matter how hard I try to avoid hurting other people’s feelings in email or the blogasphere, I still put my foot in it sometimes and have to apologise or retract what I’ve written (or said). nobody’s perfect. but if you have cause to apologise, then one would hope the other person has the grace to accept an apology and move on.

    yes, blogging is hard work – you never know who will read your words in the www.

  3. FlaHam says:

    Julie, I understand your need to self-censor, and I am sure you see it in a lot of what I write. But I can say I have never been put off by anything you have written. I love the honesty, the emotions, the caring, the anger, and most importantly the love. I appreicate your thoughts and wisdom. Please continue as you are. Take care Bill — because our circles don’t completely overlap if you can share this blogger (via email) you found, i believe I would like to read her work. Again take care, Bill

  4. don’t feel bad–we have all been there, done that

  5. I understand the need for self censoring. I worry about writing about things that are not “mine” to share. I often don’t write about what I “want” to write about publicly because it is not just my event, or my life. Like Bill said, I have never felt anything but truth and honesty in your writing. And even when you wrote about something that involved Ming or Anthony, I never felt it was “wrong”. We all have these parenting/spouse/sibling/friendship moments —-from our own perspective. I truly appreciate your respect to others. We’ve all “stepped in it” through out life. 😉

  6. I would suppose most of us have decided after we post something we kind of wish we hadn’t and do delete it. There haven’t been too many times I’ve personally done it but maybe there are ones I should have and didn’t . All we can do is ‘try’… Diane

  7. Judy says:

    I completely relate to what you wrote! When I began my blog three years ago, I didn’t have my own identity and wrote so much about raising my three children. At first, they were fine with it – but later on they weren’t. I gave them all “different names.” Then I ended up deleting everything, too. I’m somewhat careful now, but it is a challenge with my open heart not to spill my guts! 🙂

  8. I take forever to post a post and I am still going by my second name (to try and hide) and I rarely mention any of my family. You have much courage writing about your life so openly and by doing so others are helped as you have much to offer.

  9. I think many bloggers wrestle with “how much of themselves to reveal.” It’s a personal decision. As long as we aren’t opening ourselves (or our family and friends) up to being victimized I see nothing wrong with sharing our thoughts.

  10. Terry says:

    There are certain things I don’t talk about on my blogs. Politics and money in my own personal life are two. I don’t mention my kids names either, and I don’t know why on that one. You do what you feel is right. I am always supportive of you because I love ya

  11. I know some bloggers have solved this problem by having a public blog and a private one, so there has a place to vent whenever they feel like it. Sometimes it does feel very good to put it all down, to get it out. I hate having to self-censor myself because there are so many things about my situation I believe could help other women in a abusive relationship. But when I know that my ex and my family stalk my blog, I realize I’d have to create a very anonymous one to do that.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Hell – blog-stalking? That is horrible. But you have drawn my attention to a fear of mine (which is perhaps a reason for self-censorship) – my in-laws. I so admire you!

  12. It’s difficult to know where the boundaries are in blogging and where to draw the line. Sometimes those lines change too, so it becomes a little more confusing. I’ve deleted posts myself and still wonder over others.

  13. i try very hard to write freely and yet there are times i hold back. some things are just too private for sharing with anyone. i am surprised at how much i do share, over time it has become easier. as i have i find more and more that there are those who are going through similar situations and that is helpful in my own journey.

    thank you for sharing so much of yourself. i have come to love you and care for your family. it has been the ultimate gift.

  14. You’re a breath of fresh authentic air. Don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with this as well, me included. Thanks, Julie. Love, Paulette

  15. bluebee says:

    Thought-provoking, Julie.

  16. Rhonda says:

    At the end of the day, we blog for ourselves..therefore, must write what we must write when we must write it. We can’t foresee how something we write might coincide with an event in another’s life, causing feelings we didn’t intend. But at the same time, sometimes we write from our hearts, gutspilling if you will, and come to find it was exactly what someone out there needed to see, to help them understand they are not alone. If anything Jules, if you are uncomfortable sharing any part of your life, or your family, then you should certainly keep it in your heart…but you’ve never shared anything that was not honest, deeply felt, and real. And I for one, love your writings.

  17. janeslog says:

    Even when you think your life is tragic and you don’t deserve all the trouble you have, there is always someone in a much worse situation.

    I remember going to see a consultant in a specialist Glasgow hospital and seeing a young girl in the waiting room with face half eaten eaten away by a tumour. She had a cover over the hole but it was still possible to see some of the damage (although I was not staring at her as I would never do that). That was a few years ago and I often wonder if she survived that terrible condition or not.

    When I feel depressed I think back to that young girl and realise that things are not so bad after all.

  18. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    This is interesting, Julie. I too am wondering how much of the story of Daniel I will tell openly, and perhaps reserve the rest for the book, if ever ever ever the book is actually written. I mean, two years has passed and I’ve accomplished little.

    Yet I have never deleted a post ‘the morning after’. I always leave a post about a day before hitting ‘publish’. I have deleted posts, but only when I’ve thought too many sides has been off topic and too meandering of my blog.

    I’m curious what you had to say, what your posts were, but of course what’s not to discuss is not to discuss.

    I like the way you continually assess blogging honestly, being true to yourself.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Ming used to read my blog but got sick of it (ha!) and a couple of times told me off for something I said about him. Does Daniel read your blog?

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

        Daniel hasn’t read it Julie, but I have read him some of my posts on the blog. He actually loves for me to read him… still! He smiles sometimes, and remembers some bits. He knows what the whole of it is about, but also knows I won’t go into details which are his details. He says he likes my writing.

      • jmgoyder says:

        I love the relationship you and Daniel have.

  19. tersiaburger says:

    Vic read my blog and loved it. You know that I have run into opposition from some members of my family because of my blog. I however find it very difficult to talk – I write. My blog is however my blog. I will write what I feel. It is my coping mechanism. I have been told by so many people how much my blog has meant to them. I have met wonderful people who have travelled a similar path that I have. Together we grieve for our children. We travel your journey with you. We share your grief and pain. We have grown to love you and your family. I hope that you will not start censoring yourself dear friend. I honestly don’t understand what you want to censor. Your soul?? Please share the details of the new blog you found. Much love

    • jmgoyder says:

      Hi Tersia, I just thought it might hurt Ming to read the anything personal about him – still not sure about this. Then I began following your friend’s blog and realized my post a couple of days might be hurtful to anyone who has had a child suicide. xxx

  20. I understand the paradox Jules. I fight it myself. My blog like yours has become an outlet to vent, discuss & learn from, but I do write in somewhat of a veiled way. Maybe even cryptically.
    Most everything I write comes from what I know, just as you write. Just as any writer writes from what they know best.
    I have two years of writing tucked away in LBB that will never see the light of day here on WP. May I suggest Jules before deleting any of your writing you consider just making it private? (You can even password protect each private post)
    I have a personal rule I do share with other; never trash what you write!
    It is true not everything is for the public eye, but everything inside you is valid & is important.
    Everything we write is a product of who we are.
    And I happen to love who you are ~

  21. Lynda says:

    Julie, I have never been put off by anything you write. Your words and emotion are simply honest. Honest can be sad, true, but it is authentically you and makes us love you more. I do like the Barefoot Baroness’ suggestion to not delete, but to make some of your post private:

    “It is true not everything is for the public eye, but everything inside you is valid & is important.
    Everything we write is a product of who we are.”

    Your words and feelings are valid and your blog/DIARY is a good place to sort out your raw feelings. xo

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