Whose story is it?

I’m a private person. In general, I think before I speak. But then, sometimes I want to tell a story.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not thinking of or referring to any specific happening in this post. These are thoughts I’ve had, if not frequently, then more than once, anyway.

I’m not talking about made-up, fully fictional stories here, I’m talking about real life. Sometimes I want to share something I’ve experienced. Is it my story to tell simply because I was there? Or do I owe something to the other players of a narrative — it might be more their story than mine, or they may have more to lose by a given story being made public — to keep quiet, to let them keep their story to themselves? Should I wait until all the major players are dead or have made their peace with an event before I make public these stories we share?

Whether it’s blogging or writing a book, most of the stories we tell aren’t fully ours alone to share — after all, they . What’s the right thing to do?

I wonder.

Do you have any wisdom, any insight into this? Or does it not bother you?

Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks about these things, but I doubt it.

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12 responses to “Whose story is it?

  1. I think that if you directly experienced it and have first-hand knowledge of what happened, it is your story to tell from your perspective. You cannot know what the others were thinking or feeling but you can share with others what you saw/experienced and why you felt the need to share it. These are my thoughts.

  2. I talk about my family on my blog, and make jokes about them, pretty regularly. Sometimes I’ll tell a story about something I did with family or friends, as long as it’s fairly light-hearted. I am much more protective of other people’s privacy for grief, if that makes sense. If I were going to talk about something more personal and serious that involved other people, I’d probably clear it with them first. I try to think before I write personal things about other people on the interwebs, and to remember I’m not the only person affected by any given event.

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  4. This is something I’ve thought a lot about, and here’s what I’ve come up with; my involvement in something makes it my story, too. We all come at everything we share from our own unique perspective; I notice things you might not see, you interpret things in ways I can’t possibly come up with on my own because I’ve not had the experiences you’ve had. Sharing those stories is important, I think, because of what we have to offer one another in our telling of them.

    That being said, there are a number of things (my friends’ divorce, for example) in which I’m involved but which present me with clear limits for my part in them. I can talk about my experience with helping them through their stuff – and my feelings about my role in their lives and maybe even my feelings about what *I* might do or feel in a similar situation – but THEIR part in the story isn’t mine. Does that make sense?

  5. You are definitely not the only one to ponder these things. I am constantly thinking about this. In my blog, I omit lots of stories to protect others. Or I change their names. Or I ask for their permission before I post.

    On a bigger scale (my life story), I’ve come to the conclusion that some of the people in my story need to be dead before I can publish. I am always so intrigued by autobiographies because they expose so much. I really admire Maya Angelou’s style. I feel like she simply told her story from her perspective, harboring no bitterness. Maybe that’s the key. No bitterness. Just truth. I also got that impression from Billy Graham’s. Boy he didn’t paint Bob Jones in a very good light. But that taught me that people have to take responsibility for their behavior. And if they never apologize, that’s exactly how the story gets told.

  6. I have a novel I’m working on. It’s fiction…but it’s not. Much of it is based on people I know and things that did happen to me. I can disguise most of it enough that it wouldn’t hurt anyone but there is a pivotal point that I have come to that cannot be disguised or it simply won’t work. And it would be very painful for my family. So the novel sits at a standstill–I can’t find another way to write it and I can’t put something that will hurt other people out into the world.

  7. Hannah, you know me…. chat chat chatting always…. I love to share life happenings and it has become (although originally it wasn’t meant to be) a part of the way I blog. When I first started meanderings I was nervous that people didn’t want to know about my day, a funny happening, or rollerblading. I was wrong. The personal emails I received, in some cases thanking me for sharing something – or telling me how something I did encouraged them… wow. Didnt see that coming…

    but I digress. I think if it is your story, feel free to share it. If others were there, I keep them to a first name basis or in some cases I refer to them as friend….

    Someday I hope to write a book – I know pieces of my life are going to creep into the story…. I believe pieces of my relationships with others will too… from the authors I have spoken with, this is the way it is for them too.

  8. I think that whenever anyone is writing, they can only share from their life experiences. I recall TV programs that stated, “Any connection to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.” Connection is not the word they used, but I cannot recall the term that was used. A person can write from their imagination but I feel that even then, life experiences will have an impact.

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