“Writing is an act of betrayal”

to summarize something David Ulin, an L.A. Times writer and book reviewer, said to us fellows a few weeks back. He wrote “Myth of Solid Ground,” a book of non-fiction about earthquakes in CA. For research, he interviewed earthquake predictors, whose levels of sanity ranged quite a bit. To get his story, he had to “sell out” a particular predictor who had trusted him, by telling (most of) the (unsavory) truth about this man’s character and his discrepancies in prediction. Is this “selling out” or truth-telling? Do we write with the intention of betrayal?

Back in high school, I wrote for the “Daily Review,” the local Hayward newspaper, and had a cute little column about the youth perspective.  I wrote about the Iraq war, budget cuts, etc.  But there was one particular article that my best friend paid the most attention to because she HATED it.  For my last column of the year, I had set out to write an homage to my high school friends, since we were graduating that year. In the article, I characterized all my friends by specific songs we liked, activities we did together (blah blah going to the movies, listening to music blah blah), and I remember writing that I enjoyed talking about boys with this particular best friend.  I didn’t mean to describe her as a one-sided, boy-crazy Stacy (because she wasn’t), but that was truly one of the many things I couldn’t do with anyone else at the time.  She was offended and possibly hated me for a while.  I’d unintentionally betrayed her with my words made public and immortalized (at least for that day’s paper).  Maybe I’d betrayed her by my lack of character development or focus within the piece.  I hadn’t realized that writing a column necessitated the same grace for writing fiction or poetry at the time.  I think this was the first time I recognized my squeamishness with writing for an audience.  With writing, is it better to offend someone than no one at all?  Audience of one or none?

I guess this is what brings me to blogging.  Or blogging with a safe number of audience members.  I haven’t blogged since 10th grade, and I’m glad that Livejournal doesn’t keep inactive accounts.  Or do they?

For fun, a list of people I’ve “betrayed” in my writing:

*my parents

*my sister

*my grandmother

*my best friends

*at least five cousins

*at least 3 of my students

*all my former lovers

In any case, I’d rather betray all my loved ones publicly.  For art’s sake, right?

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1 Comment

Filed under writing process

One response to ““Writing is an act of betrayal”

  1. Ricizzo

    poor stacy…

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