Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Integrity in Writing and Online Dating: Part 1

On Saturday night I joined up to an internet dating site. I’ve decided there is no use denying it, might as well embrace it and pretend it is all a bit of a good joke and that I don’t care about any possible rejection or laying myself so bare to unknown people. So, on I went. 

In my light hearted mood, I confessed my adventure to some of my work colleagues, thinking it might liven up the discussion and maybe even make me feel more normal about my decision.

One of my friends at work then suggested that naturally I should blog about the experience. I’m a writer, I write about experiences in life, and this is a life experience.


Not so simples I came to find. 

My thinking on this has actually led to a two part blog post. I was trying to write it all in one, but it got confused, and I was going around in circles, and I couldn’t work out what I wanted to say. I finally worked out that I had gotten myself into a never ending loop between my personal desire to deflect unwanted attention and deep scrutiny and my conscience’s subtle probing that protecting myself by putting the attention on others was maybe not the ‘right thing to do’.

So, I’m sorry Jasmine, this is not exactly a post about my amazing adventures in Internet Dating World. It is first a discussion on our rights as writers, and then in a separate post, our obligations.

I am a writer. Want to be, emerging, whatever… I have the heart and soul of a writer. I look at the world differently, I listen to how things could be described in sentences, I notice characteristics, tics that give away deeper personal natures. I am an observer. 

But does that mean I have the right to write about anything that happens to me or that I perceive? Are there times when we are meant to be just people, are being conversed with or enter into some sacred rite with someone, invited as another participant, and are expected to lay down our pen and paper and just experience?  Or is everything free game?

Let us take, for example, John (not his real name). We sent a few messages, and then spoke on the phone and finally met in person for coffee and cake. During this time he released little bits of information, little snippets of his past but also of his self-perception, his previous hurts, and also little glimpses of his hopes and desires.  They were pushed forward across the table, one by one, to see how I would react to them, to see how much I could accept, and where he should stop and hide the rest.
These morsels gave me hints to histories, to emotions and wounds that I have not experienced. As a writer I wanted to gobble them up, take them from him, scoop them into my arms like a pirate finding treasure, and look over each one, analyse it, hold it up to the light to see how it glittered, and see which ones might be useful to me.
But as a woman, I was terrified. I wanted him to stop, to push them all back at him and say 'keep them'. If you show me yours, you might want me to show you mine.  And I’m not going to.  A this stage, I’m not going to test the waters with how he will react. I’m going to be perfect, witty and brilliant, and then once he’s completely smitten, will decide whether to share or not, whether or not to put my own heart on the line.
But what about him? Is he expecting the woman but seeing the glee of the writer, and thinking the woman approves? 
But he is saying it, he's putting it out there, surely I must be allowed to take it, use it. I'm a writer, the world is my oyster.

I might not tell you John’s exact stories, or even his real name. But even if I just take his reaction, the emotions provoked, and translated them, is that still using him? 
I think what I'm trying to say here is whether there's a time when as a writer you should move from saying 'can I capture this person's emotions?' to 'this person has shared this with me, do I have the right to capture it?' 
As writers, if we take from the world, but refuse to give back, are we being unfaithful? 
Even if we create great art? 
When are people people, and not objects to be observed?
In the next blog I will look at me the person versus me the writer, but for now, what I want to ask is:
Should I blog about the men I meet?

No comments:

Post a Comment