Friday, January 16, 2009

When They Don't Want You to Write

In keeping with my censorship theme (this is the last one, I promise) I thought I'd explore another area where writers are stifled, often to the point of abandoning their dream. This type of censorship is the most insidious as it tends to creep in slowly and take over without the victim even realizing it. Sometimes, the writers themselves come to believe it was their own idea to give up writing.

And what could possibly land a writer in such dire circumstances? A relationship.

As Garrison Keillor once noted, "As soon as man cares what a woman thinks about him, he starts looking for a safe place to stand. 'If only I can keep her from getting mad at me,' he thinks, 'everything will be all right.'" And that may be so, but if the partner in question decides they don't really fancy you spending all that time writing, things can get ugly. (I have no experience to back me up, but my feeling is this is even more prevalent in the male non-writer verses female writer arena.)

Writing was such a part of who I was that the idea of someone having a problem with it never entered my mind. The cult, yes, they had a big problem with it, but they had an agenda. My beloved, however, the woman who had promised to spend the rest of her life with me, she couldn't want me to stop doing something she knew full well was central to my nature. Could she?

This manifested itself initially as a "You don't trust me," ploy. Her thinking was I must be writing nasty stuff about her if I didn't want her reading my journal. This resulted in some amazing fights, both when I wouldn't let her read it, and then when I did. She was not, it turned out, a fan of my innermost thoughts.

Then one night we were returning from a dinner date and I mentioned my latest writing project. Her response was, "That's okay for now, but once we're married you're giving up this writing thing; I'll be damned if I'm going to share you with a book!"

No fight ensued. I just kept driving and didn't say a word. But in my mind I saw the path the two of us were on suddenly split and veer widely apart. We broke up some weeks later.

The woman I eventually married didn't care what I did, as long as it didn't involve her. That worked well enough for a season. After we divorced, I spent eight years with a woman who introduced me to Olympic-quality mind control. She put the cult to shame when it came to facilitating guilt trips and getting you to agree that, yes, there must certainly be something wrong with you if that is how you choose to spend your time.

I won't go into detail, but only because it would fill a book if I did.

At first glance, this sort of censorship seems different from the other two as it is more personality based. This one stems, apparently, from insecurity, jealousy or general misunderstanding, but make no mistake, it all comes from the same place my last two examples did: the desire to control.

Be it in the work place, a relationship, daily life or national politics, one person telling another that they cannot do something, not because it is wrong or in any way dangerous to anyone, but simply because they don't want them to do it, is simply a method of exploiting their power.

I know it sounds like I'm up on a soap box about this, but really I'm not; I'm just recounting curious events from my past life and what I learned from them.

Currently, I'm in a good place. I escaped my previous relationship with only minor injuries and my new wife is supportive of my writing. She even lends a hand (or, more appropriately, an eye) now and again, though I try not to take advantage of her willing nature. So life is calm and orderly and, because of that, I find I can produce consistently. And at this point, there is little more I could wish for, aside from a book contract and a spot on Richard and Judy.

Next: back to our regularly scheduled programming


  1. Well put!
    I can quite sympathies. I keep my hand over the keyboard when Hubby is around as he is so critical,... he says in my best interest! But I want to ramble in my own way. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I totally agree with the freedom to write!
    Sounds like your last relationships weren't meant to be if they were trying to change you and stop you doing what you love!
    All the best and keep on writing!

  3. Granny: I know how you feel. "She Who Must Not Be Named" (aka my ex-girlfriend) used to stand behind me when I wrote and correct my grammar and spelling. She was a real peach ;)

  4. Brit: Yes, if someone says they love you and then try to change you, well, they don't really love you at all. And trying to stop someone from writing is just plain silly.