There is nothing that I detest more than having someone tell me what I can and cannot write about. When someone tries to censor my storytelling by telling me not to write about certain topics….I get pissed. My stomach twists with aggravated frustration. It makes me anxious and stresses me to the max.
I’M A WRITER!
I am a writer. I write about everything from mundane days to childhood memories and traumatic experiences. Sometimes, I mention certain people in these stories, but I always try to be respectful and I always keep their personal details out of it. I am telling a story from my perspective. Does it make you uncomfortable when I’ve referenced you in some way? Too bad for you, I guess.
I believe we should write our own truth, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only truth.
There are multiple sides to every story. We are all adults here; we know that. We should understand that. My perception of something may be different from yours and that is fine: it’s still important, it’s still a side of a story that I deserve to share. I would never dare to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t write about: it’s up to them, it’s their story.
Imagine if someone told Anne Frank that she shouldn’t write about her life during the Holocaust. Imagine that she had listened. There would be no Diary of Anne Frank if Anne had kept those harrowing experiences a secret. Does that seem fair, that Anne should be silenced because her words made others a little uncomfortable?
Hell, no. The world needed to read Anne’s diary, Anne’s story. I’m really glad that she ignored the dangers and the people who tried to silence her by continuing to write. She risked it all to be heard. Her story was important, her experiences were important. She mattered.
This is the reason why I struggle to write my memoir. To write anything, really. I had a hard time writing my first novel. I was terrified of the love scenes and the traumatic scenes, terrified of upsetting someone or being told I “shouldn’t write like that.” I can’t help but feel like they think it is perfectly okay for other people to write like that, but not me. When I do it, it’s ‘bad.’
I had to push past so many boundaries in order to get over myself enough to write the story I wanted. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I won’t backtrack now. I won’t undo all the hard work I’ve done.
I won’t censor myself to appease someone else.
I’m probably not the only writer this happens to. I’m probably not the only person who is given strict instructions to “not write about this.” Each time a friend confides in me that they feel censored, that they can’t discuss something they desperately need to discuss…I tell them to just do it, just write it out.
And yet…I struggle with letting it go. I struggle with not letting that censoring become a mental block in my creativity.
Maybe it affects me so profoundly because I desperately wish to make everyone proud. I desperately wish to be the person that they (humbly) brag about.
I want the approval, but I won’t get it if I write about the things I want to write about, the things that have shaped who I am today. They don’t understand my need to purge words from my system, to create beauty out of tragedy. To leave behind a legacy of words that impacts others in some small way.
I need to learn how to live without the approval, or how to live with duct tape over my mouth and splinters in my skin.
Guess we know which one wins out in the end. (Hint, it’s not the duct tape and splinters).
About J.C. Hannigan:
J.C. Hannigan lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, their two sons, and two dogs. She writes new adult romance, through which she brings to light awareness of mental health and social challenges. Like any good Canadian, she loves hiking and carbs. Collide is her first novel.