James Magnuson offers the following advice to writers:
- Find the most powerful experience of your life and write about it.
- Write about what you’re ashamed of.
I wonder in how many cases those would be related.
Also “powerful” has many interpretations. That could mean something that was intensely emotional at the time, or that has remained so over time.
Regardless, it seems both approaches would net something worth reading, provided the writer could be honest about it. That is, indeed, always the trick. I find myself sometimes writing around things instead of going into them.
Sometimes that’s because it would be messy for other people, but most of the time it’s because it would be messy for me. There might be repercussions – real or perceived. Or I know the mere writing would cause me distress. Of course, not writing can do the same. I suppose when the latter outweighs the former I’ll get about it.
Lately I’ve been getting repeated messages that I need to write about some of the messier, uglier, nastier parts of my own life. I’m not sure what I’ll do with those stories once they’re written. They’re certainly not appropriate for this blog. Perhaps I’ll start another one. Maybe an anonymous one. While that’s always appealing in the abstract, in reality I can never figure out how to make it work.