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Fear of Being Characterized

So I was out to dinner tonight and, as usual, the random flash of inspiration occurred and I grabbed my little moleskine and had to jot it all down. Fleeting moments of inspiration should be grabbed with both hands, lest they be lost into the aether with no hope of recovery. I know that it’s marginally rude to start scribbling when in the company of others, but as they say “those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter,” but the new person among us was somewhat unnerved by the fact that I might be jotting notes about her. I wasn’t, but it brings up the concerns I’ve heard before.

Part of the fear of the friends and family of a writer is that they’ll end up in print. Most people are familiar with the adage of “write what you know,” and what better way to employ that than to write about the people you interact with every day. But what is it that people are afraid of? Is it seeing their flaws laid out for the world to see? Or is it knowing, in no uncertain terms, how they are perceived by the people around them? Or is it a combination of both?

Though it was said in jest, after she noticed that I was writing furiously, she asked if I was taking notes about her and though I said no, she said “it was nice meeting you,” and more or less said she wouldn’t be able to hang out again. I explained that every person I met was character fodder, though I did my best to only pull elements and make new people from them and that if I were to ever actually use the “whole person,” I’d likely end up slapped with a libel suit. And so would every writer that includes their real-life acquaintances in their work.

So, I’ll leave it up to you lurkers to tell me…what is it that makes you squeamish when writerly types pull out the pen and paper in your presence and start scribbling? What are you afraid of them capturing and putting in to words? What are you concerned about showing up in print?

Let me know your thoughts. I promise, I’m not taking notes. 😉

Categories: Life in General, Writing
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