Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Permission

A nutritionist changed my life.

Michelle (just look at how adorable she is, guys!) and I worked together in 2010-2011. One of the most important things she taught me is that I need to give myself permission to eat: I am free to enjoy my meals, and I must tell myself that it is acceptable to do so.

I promise I'm going somewhere with this that will benefit those of you who happen to be writers. Stick with me.

When writing about your own life, there is a fine line to be walked: how much of this story can I tell before I being infringing upon the rights of the others who populate my tale? Should I clear that second chapter with Mom? Will my best friend from high school be upset that I described our exploits in detail even though I changed her name and identifying characteristics?

Sometimes, even though we are the main characters of our own stories, I think we get lost in the shuffle. Of course it's important to be respectful of the people you discuss and take your role as the narrator seriously. But I also believe that we must give ourselves permission to discuss the things that happened to us.

This could be anything, from a traumatic encounter with a gecko to the first time you went to a funeral with an open casket to how you discovered you were allergic to peanuts. And we are not required to relate each detail or describe every event in our pasts. However, acknowledging that you COULD share your experiences if you chose to do so is important.

Just like Michelle wanted me to realize it was okay to say, "Yes, Cate, you may have that brownie," I want you to know it's all right to say, "Yes, I may write about this thing." It could be that doing so frees you of hang-ups you didn't know you had.

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