I am currently writing a book that is a mix of both fiction and non-fiction. In the book both Ben and I discuss gender and sexuality and offer our opinions on defining men and women and our own sexuality.
This scares me. Everywhere you look there are writers getting in deep shit for writing something contentious, for writing their true feelings or even for tweeting the ‘wrong thing’. It’s a big bad world out there full of millions of people ready to leap on you for the smallest ‘misstep’.
This clearly isn’t new. Before the legions of internet trolls and angry groups of activists there were people with pitchforks and torches and before that there were beheadings and scallopings and all manner of painful torment for people who just wanted to express themselves.
I certainly wouldn’t go so far to compare myself with great philosophers who have been murdered for speaking up, but I do know some of my opinions and feelings will be contentious and that worries me.
I’m not one to stay quiet, I never have been. It’s caused me no shortage of stress of course and on many occasions I’ve been verbally assaulted for my views. But I just can’t shut up. I feel the need to say how I feel, say it loud and write it in books and try to get them published so everyone can read them. It’s kind of a little self destructive I guess. I mean I could pick something nice and safe to write about, couldn’t I? But no. I have to be interested in the things people get riled up about. I choose to write about sex, gender, abuse, psychopathy, drugs, death. I choose to write about topics that scare me or make me uncomfortable.
When I’ve really piped up and shared my feelings and thoughts I’ve been called many horrible names and had people go off on me, cease listening and just overwhelm me with their anger. I’ve even been called a murderer because of some of my views. But still I go back for more.
I don’t want to be afraid to speak but I am sometimes. I’m only human, I care about what other people think of me and I don’t want to offend. But I also want to be true to myself, I want to be honest in my writing and I don’t want to shut up just because the trolls might come banging on my door.
So what’s a girl to do?
Write. Just keep saying what I want to say. Because what other choice do I have? I clearly want to venture onto contentious ground and if I didn’t I wouldn’t be me.
So here are my rules for self expression for those who want to speak up and are afraid to do so:
1) It’s alright to express yourself no matter what.
2) It’s alright to change your mind. The things you have said in the past might not apply in the future.
3) Feelings are subjective and oftentimes neither right or wrong.
4) Try not to fret over people who refuse to listen or understand your perspective and feelings.
5) Philosophy and practicality are two different things. It’s alright to discuss things from a top down view.
6) Just say it.
7) If you’ve changed your mind don’t be afraid to admit it.
8) Write, write, write!
How do you get past the barriers of being afraid to speak?