Bethville (population 1)

I’m often asked what it’s like to be a writer — how I spend my days, how I experience the world. And so I will be sharing occasional essays from the front lines of my writing life. Enjoy!

For a time, my friend Sheree worked in my city, and sometimes she’d shoot me a text before her long commute home.

Leaving Bethville.

It always made me smile. It was a loving wave between friends, friends who saw each other too rarely.

But what also made me smile was the idea of Bethville. A city named after me! I could say and do whatever I wanted within its boundaries. Hear ye, hear ye: I declare myself mayor.

Which brings me to this blog —my Bethville. I launched it so I could write what I damn well pleased. Hear that publishers? Screw your dictates. And, you, English teachers, I’ll put commas my wherever I want, so ,,,, there ,,,, !

The only thing I didn’t consider when assuming office was that Bethville residents would read what I write. (They’re even reading it now!) Which puts a damper on things. For it’s one thing to report news or write a flattering profile (of me or them) but quite another to do serious investigative reporting or an opinion piece.

I’ve learned this the hard way and have recently pulled two pieces that unintentionally offended. One, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have posted; the other, I should have let stay.

How do I balance my need to express, to share my life, my ache, with the feelings of others? Where is the line that separates the personal and shared experience? What am I allowed to say? And when? Do I wait until others aren’t looking or are no longer in my life, figuratively and literally?

For me, to write is to breathe and so the question becomes: Do I hold my breath?

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