The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Stories That Need More Time in the Oven
By M. Alouette
Do you feel pressured to tell a story you're not ready to tell? With the Internet's call for constant publishing and the popularity of confessional web essays, that's not surprising. The pressure from publishers and editors or even other writers can weigh down on any wordsmith. If you're not ready to write about a personal experience, don't. Every writer should challenge themselves and aim for a degree of vulnerability, but there's a time and a place.
Maybe you need more time, maybe the editor isn't the right editor for you, maybe you need another outlet for your sensitive story. It is perfectly fine to wait until you think you've given yourself enough distance between the event or situation in question. Your particular trauma, your journey to recovery, and your relationship with the people involved all contribute to what that distance means and will look like. It may take days or weeks. It may take months or years. If it takes decades, it takes decades. (There's no such thing as being "too old" to write and have work published, anyway. You're only too old when you're dead.)
It is also perfectly fine to wait until you've been matched with an editor who understands the nuances of your story. For difficult matters, you need an editor you trust not just on the fundamentals of writing but the human condition. You need to feel confident that this person isn't pushing you in all the wrong ways. They can't be someone angling for a viral story or job promotion. They can want those things, but they shouldn't be the first priority. The quality of your story and your well-being should be top priorities. The right editor for a sensitive story should be a person of good character; panache alone won't cut it. Who cares about their cool and glamorous hook-ups if they destroy your life?
Likewise, you should have faith in the outlet publishing the story. Is this a publication that will give your story the best treatment? Will they run social media headlines that make sense? Pick an image to match the tone? Or will they pimp it out in al the wrong ways? The fight for page views and social media shares is real. Some publications play dirty. Find out which ones are ethical and will treat your story with dignity.
Do not give into unreasonable demands for the sake of a byline or even a paycheck. If you aren't ready, you will likely end up regretting it. Your vanity, ambition, and financial aspirations could cost you more than you know. There are ways to get published and make money without wrecking yourself. Be honest and evaluate your gut reaction. What is your intuition telling you about writing and publishing this piece? Writing an essay in your journal or on your laptop is one thing; publishing it for anyone to read online and share on Facebook is very different. You own your experiences and it is up to you to decide when and how to tell them. Trust yourself before you trust anyone else—that's part of Self-care 101.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.