|LuAnn with her muses: her family. "Yes, I'm oversharing. Again."|
I wrote and sold the first story about daughter #3 when she was six years old. The piece relayed a humorous story involving Holy Communion, the bread dipped in grape juice, and the subsequent laughter when she forcefully proclaimed to our Pastor, “I am not eating or drinking blood.”
The anecdote was cute and it required only a quick write-up before I sent it off to a publisher.
When daughter #2 was not selected for a part in a local children’s theater production, I scribbled a poem on a receipt I dug out of my purse, watching her reaction when her name was not announced. The piece sold to a month later and I received $50 for 14 lines capturing a single moment of her life.
Now, I have four grandchildren and the story possibilities continue to grow.
Here’s where it gets awkward.
I’m a writer. I write. And, like many writers, the spotlight shines (sometimes) too brightly on my family and their experiences. After all, writers are told to “write what we know” and what or who do I know better than my family.
But as my brood grows older, they do not necessarily like their 15 minutes of fame in one of mom’s articles or poems or columns.
What’s a writer mama or grandma to do? How do you find balance between sharing a life lesson or a hearty laugh from one you love and oversharing, risking their embarrassment? Is it an invasion of their privacy?
A few months ago, I wrote an essay about a current and newsworthy item in my home state and mentioned daughter #1, who works in business development.
“Gee, Mom,” the conversation started. “Thanks for talking about me in your newspaper column. My phone has been ringing non-stop and so have the e-mail comments.”
Great, I thought. I’m getting through to people.
But had I overstepped the imaginary line in the sand where personal eclipses into professional? Should I not share her successes, not offer examples for others to learn from?
Yeah, yeah, so I’m writing about one of my children. Again.
The argument extends beyond words on a page. Do we overshare about our children on Facebook or Twitter? It’s not like I’m posting on my Facebook page, “Oh, so proud of grandchild #2. He went on the big boy potty today!”
Sure, I post
some pictures of the grandkids on my Facebook wall so far-away family and friends can watch them grow up. Should I?
Will my words or photos one day make them uncomfortable?
It’s especially tough when you’re a mommy blogger or a grandmommy blogger because these pulled snapshots of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives generate ideas and hopefully, give valuable information (or a chuckle) to others in similar situations.
Until they demand I stop penning their stories, I will continue to use my family as my creative muse. They are the best sampling of life as I know it and write it.
And the story must go on.
by LuAnn Schindler. You may find more examples of my oversharing tendencies at my website.