Every Writer’s Dilemma: To Write Privately or Publicly?


TWO WEEKS until the Retreat on Forgiveness and I need it.

I’m wondering what to do with all that’s happened and whether people like to read sad things. Or am I just another person dumping their stuff on the world?

I know I pushed the envelope a bit, writing some of my thoughts about growing up with an alcoholic parent, but each piece felt right and the collection brought mail from so many different places, I was glad I’d written. Not just written, but shared. Those are two different things.

But what about this current situation? Will I do anything with it? I mean, besides crumble into dust and be blown to the corners of life?

Will I write about it? (In truth, I have already. 120,000+ words)
Will I share any of it? Will I sift out the gems?

Not to be coy, but this is an important part of being a writer, discerning whether writing “out loud” (in the public eye) serves any purpose. I don’t take these decisions lightly.

There are things that belong in journals,
things that belong in private letters to individuals,
things that belong in a public space.
The wise writer knows the difference.

And though I may at the moment teeter on despair, crying endless hours, feeling the past was a waste and the future is absent, I’m hanging on to being a wise writer, or at least giving the appearance of one.

Two weeks until the retreat. I will gain something there, if only a break. You just never know.

Were Talking about it, Just Not One Day a Week

Were Talking about it, Just Not One Day a Week

How It Starts

How It Starts

Real Reason Most Journals are Abandoned

Real Reason Most Journals are Abandoned

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in philosophical maelstroms, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Every Writer’s Dilemma: To Write Privately or Publicly?

  1. Sharon O says:

    I think some things can be left written in a personal journal and not shared in public, confidential issues or very personal issues can stay private if one wishes. We do not have to share every thought, move or incident with our readers. I am dealing with several things that could be ‘blog’ worthy but they are also personal to the few who are involved and I have to ask myself, “is it necessary to share, and for what purpose?’
    Would it benefit the reader as well as the one written about?? Can it be written in a ‘story’ form and not as a ‘real’ now time experience? Do you know what I mean? There is often opportunity, but we must use discernment and trust in ourselves to make a good choice.


  2. Belinda says:

    I so get the need to be careful…I think that it is an occupational hazard of being a writer that writing about the things we feel deeply is our first natural impulse. But we mustn’t forget whose lives we are writing about besides our own. The past is never wasted, because it forms us, whether we write about it or not. All that you wrote about your past was so sensitively written. You wrote without judgment, just painting pictures through the eyes of a little girl. They were beautiful pieces of writing and I’m glad I could read them; I loved them. For the current situation, maybe one day God will say, “Go,” and you’ll know it’s okay to write publicly in some shape or form. For now, I’m so glad you captured it in the moment in trust for some future day.


  3. Julie says:

    Marilyn your “pushing the limits” with your COA series was a wonderfully, beautiful, feeling, and impactful (yes, I’m making up words apparently) thing. I am grateful that you did. I trust that you will know when the time is right (or not) to share what you’ve written here or in other venues.

    I also don’t think that your dilemma applies just to writing in a public way – I think it applies to all areas of life where we share parts of ourselves and parts of ourselves that is impacted by others – what is our story to tell and what isn’t? How do we discern the difference? I think the answer to that varies by time, place, person and audience and it is something that I’m still at times learning – and will likely continue to learn forever.

    I know I am grateful for you – for your openness in sharing through your writing – for your willingness to be so very real – simply for you.


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