Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Walls Have Been Breached

So, I guess nothing is really private anymore. I've been discovered by at least one family member and probably by more. Here's what happened --

I created this blog and felt so deliciously sneaky that I set my status on facebook as "Karen is keeping secrets." As I knew it would, that statement teased them and generated a good deal of nosiness and speculation among my grown children and children-in-law with whom I am facebook "friends."

Because I really didn't want them to investigate, I assured them that the secret had nothing to do with them or with family. I told them this for a very good reason. I knew that, since they don't know me as a writer, they would have a hard time separating "Mom" from Karen-who-writes.

This is exactly what has happened. My son googled my name and the word secrets, or some such procedure, and found the blog. He said nothing about it until today, when I told him I had something I wanted him to read. Then he fessed up. His next statement, referring to "Beneath the Veil of Winter Born," was, "...a little hard on Granddad, weren't you?"

Just as I suspected, my family will believe that anything I write is autobiographical.

Of course, I believe that all writing is autobiographical in many ways. It shows the deepest heart of the writer, revealing parts that are not apparent to the rest of the world. Writing reveals, and poetry may distill the essence of the person most of all. Yet, as much as it reveals, it also allows one to become someone else, and therein is the rub for those who know the writer. Which person is authoring the piece? Is it the one who is opening her heart for all to see, exposing her truest self, or is it the one who is creating a new reality that has little to do with the author herself but provides a wonderous landscape in which she may wander? Maybe the answer is both.

I have no doubt that all three of my children -- bright, educated young adults -- can understand that my father did not scorn me as the father in this particular poem does his child. I just hope that when they read my work, as I am sure they will, they can set aside "Mom" and just enjoy the writing. If not, then I hope they have enough discretion not to tell me.


  1. LOL! Karen, you knew they would find out sooner or later. I am sure that your children will enjoy your writing as much as we, who were privy from the start, all do!

    As to the question of whether or not they will speculate if your poetry/prose is autobiographical or a figment of your own creation, they might. But, don't tell MUST keep some secrets! ;P :)

  2. Hehe, neat that they found out so fast-- and through a Google search no less! :)

    As for the reality in your poetry, I've had the same sorts of assumptions made about mine. While reality is often an inspiration or a starting point, it is called "creative writing" for a reason! But no matter how often I say it, the assumption is still made...

    I bet your family will enjoy your work every bit as much as I do, and even more, because you are family.

  3. In a way, I'm sorry you were discovered, Karen (er, hi, Karen's kids! ;)), because I understand that desire to keep this world separate from the other. There is a deep freedom in that.

    But I do love this post, and the question you raise about writing and the self :) It can make me uncomfortable, too, for others to imagine me as my characters. Yet I'm obviously there in some form. For you, too. Maybe real growth and maturity arises when the writer is really willing to stretch herself, lay herself and her imagination bare, and not care about the consequences or judgments. I don't think I'm quite there yet. But I'd like to be. ;)

    I hope your children and family will enjoy your writing as much as the rest of us do. :)

  4. that's pretty funny...

    my three know i write, but only the oldest wants to see what i write... so i send her stuff, time to time ;)

  5. oops! furgot!

    thx for the lemonade, too :D

  6. "my family will believe that anything I write is autobiographical."

    That is so true. Spouse and Son know of my blogs, but my siblings(-in-law) do not. Yet.

    "Writing reveals, and poetry may distill the essence of the person most of all."

    This is my concern. That my family and relatives will discover my blogs and find I am not the person they think I am after all.

  7. I suppose it's true that a little piece of us is inherent in whatever we create. That being said, sometimes its fun to just go out on a limb and stretch beyond your own reality. (I'm not too good at this myself...pieces of me are everywhere.)
    Funny story, Karen. On the Blasts From the Past blog, I was discovered by a former male friend who lived on my street when I was a kid. I had written a post called, "All By Myself: Slow-dancing At Parties" and mentioned his name. The next day there was a comment from him and I thought someone was playing a joke, but it really was him. I had not spoken to him in nearly 30 years!

    So glad you enjoyed your visit. I really like your blog, very much.


  8. This is of course the great freedom of writing, just as you say. I do not have to be me, and because I have lived, I can still write from a fictional point of view without it seeming false. That might be hard to grasp by those who do not engage in this form of fantasy.

  9. K. - They may have been following all along! I wouldn't be surprised.

    Rachel - Good point, and one I'll use in my defense! ;)

    Sarah - I think the very point you have raised is the one that kept me from writing; I have cared too much for the opinion of others. It's that willingness, as you say, to lay myself bare and take the consequences that I am stretching for. On the other hand, it makes me very happy when there are complimentary comments on the blog, so I guess I'm not there yet. As always, you have something insightful to add to the discussion. Thanks.

    laughingwolf - You just make me smile. That is a nice thing.

    Bevie - I know exactly what you mean. Fearing they will discover we are not what they thought, or not enough somehow, is as frightening as that they will discover what we are. I wonder if all people feel this way? Thanks for making me think about that.

    Kat - I love the story! Finding someone like that could be great...or.... LOL

  10. Christopher - And don't we all have those fictional worlds inside us, even the non-writers? I think everyone has an inner Walter Mitty, writing his/her life in her head.

    I like how you said, "because I have lived." Exactly.

  11. This happened to me with my parents and I still find it difficult to just let the creativity flow, knowing they will read it. Ironically, my recount of some childhood memories were their favorites... it's just been hard to write more since then. Fortunately they don't comment directly on my blog so I can more easily push it out of my mind.

    I hope this breach doesn't have the same affect on you. Keep writing! I love your work.

  12. Ah children...they do seem to revel in exposing us! ;-) My favorite 'fiction' is honest to the core.

  13. It's a responsibility for them. To know. My advice to them is to see this as a gift to use quietly. To hear your thoughts without filter is a rare thing.

  14. This left me chuckling. My mother had the same reaction when she read some of my work. "Where the hell did that come from?" I don't believe she's visited the blog since.

  15. It's nearly impossible to remain anonymous on the internet anymore. I feel for you!

    I also deplore that anything one writes is construed as autobiographical. Even using "I", is often "writer's license." I hope your children will grant you "Freedom of speech." Or else, change your blog name, url, erase your internet history, and don't say a word to them!

    Thank you for 2nding the nomination for me to receive the lemonade award. I want to do the same for you! :)

  16. Hi Karen. That was fast! :) I suspect there is both some freedom (that comes from being out in the open) and some restraint--and it's the latter that we all have to struggle with. Those voices in your head-the people you care about--they are there with the author sometimes, watching, censoring. ("I can't write that--what will he think?) So you have to make the commitment to honor your freedom a little more now, but I think that may be balanced by the immense pride you must feel (deserve to feel!) when those you love read your beautiful poetry.

  17. Christine - I haven't told my parents about it or my siblings. Now that the word is out, I have no doubt that they'll know, but I'm not ready to talk about the writing yet, and I'm really not ready for them to read it! Do we stay children all of our lives?

    Cat - It's the honesty that worries me! ;)

    Jason - I'm going to direct them to your comment, and I hope they'll heed your advice.

    Roberta - My parents will have exactly the same reaction! LOL

    GeL - I can run, but I can't hide. They can deal with it! (Yeah, right...I talk tough, but...)

    Jennifer - Yes, it didn't take them long to find me out! You are right about the balance, and that is what I must find. I want to write true, but I know I'll think twice (or thrice) about everything. I just hope I continue to write. Thanks for commenting.

  18. Karen, I love this post for many different reasons. I must laugh at the same time just as I feel sorry that after feeling deliciously sneaky you've been discovered...

    (You see, I don't use Facebook)

    But not just your family believes or will believe that what you write is autobiographical. I'm pretty sure that many people who read what I write think it's about me. This makes it more intriguing and also funnier.

    The answer, as you said it, is that I am "the one who is opening her heart for all to see, exposing her truest self," AND, most certainly, at the same time "the one who is creating a new reality that has little to do with the author herself but provides a wondrous landscape in which she may wander."

  19. Vesper - I think this struck a chord with most of us. Just as you stated, this isn't either/or; it's both. You always have an interesting way of looking at things. Thanks for commenting.

  20. I find that everything I write people seem to think is autobiographical too....and a lot of them think it is about them to (ha, they wish). It's kind of fun though, to keep them guessing. Although, writing reveals much of our hidden selves. It's so personal, whether it is about us or not ..on one level or another. Nice work and I'm sure your kids are proud of you.

  21. Thanks for stopping by, Elle. Yes, the more I write, the more I realize just how autobiographical it is. I do think, though, that sometimes fiction is fiction!

    I like what you said about others thinking they're in the writing, too!

  22. "Which person is authoring the piece? Is it the one who is opening her heart for all to see, exposing her truest self, or is it the one who is creating a new reality that has little to do with the author herself but provides a wonderous landscape in which she may wander? Maybe the answer is both."

    Exactly. What "others" might not understand is that artists, writers, poets have a willingness to "go there" - where ever "there" may be. I love what you've said here. :)

  23. Thanks, bluesugarpoet. I just came back from your place. I feel humbled.

  24. Oh boy! Do I hear you on the autobiographical assumptions! I wrote a whole novel and everyone thought it was all true!

  25. thx k... happy valentine's to you and yours, come saturday :D

  26. Ha! My family is not yet ready to understand what I write, nor be exposed to it. My lovely partner of 12 years was reading over my shoulder last night as I read one of my favorite writers, "What do you get from reading that", she asked, "I don't even know what she's talking about" I remain a secret... jorc

  27. Diane - Are they ever able to tell the difference? If not, then I feel for Stephen King's mom! LOL

    laughingwolf - You, too, my friend!

    gameover - Thanks for stopping by. I've shared only a couple of my poems with my husband, who is the most literal guy on earth. I guess some things are better savored alone. :)