A Question of Privacy

A blogger recently mentioned that his mother was one of his followers.

I was both impressed and confused. It made me wonder.lock and key

I have chosen to keep my blog very private. As far as I know, no one in my family has ever read my stuff. My daughter has asked about it, and I hinted that I was not quite ready to open it up.

It allows me much more freedom of expression. I have disclosed some things that I’ve spoken about often, but only in vague or generalized terms.

I’m not sure the details can be shared. At least not now.

privacyWriting has always been very personal for me; a form of catharsis.

Would it be the same if I knew that loved ones had access ?

Would there be an attempt to edit out those thoughts and memories that might be deemed hurtful ?

I doubt that I’m alone in these concerns.  If you’ve figured this out, please advise.

I’m all ears.



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80 Responses to A Question of Privacy

  1. George says:

    I think it’s a valid point and one that many writers struggle with. When a took some writing classes years ago this very point came up and many in the class were intimidated by what family or friends might think of their work, especially when they let their imaginations run free. Blogging is no different. Most people are here because they want to be able to express themselves freely. If those around you can understand and accept that, you can let them in. But if you feel your thoughts and opinions are going to be judged or questioned then they’re not ready to listen to what you have to say. My family and friends know about and choose to read my blog. They may comment now and again but I don’t mind discussion. They’ve never told me what I should or should not be writing because they understand this is my space and time. But everyone is different.

  2. Hi Van. My husband knows about the blog, that is, he knows I spend time online, on social media in general, and that I write stuff here. But he has never read my work, nor do I expect he ever will. My ego is slightly put out, but only a little.

    I can’t claim to have figured it out, but you might find the comments to a post I wrote on a similar theme helpful https://mcwilson1956.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/why-i-blog/

    • Thanks for the link, Maggie, and I must say, you “dump” better than most of us out here ! As usual, the comments are also of such benefit. I started during a time of grief, in 2012, and pulled back, still unready to disclose. I even password-protected a bit. I returned here 8 months ago, but I still hold back a lot, out of respect for family. Thanks again. Van

  3. My mom and daughter follow my blog. There have been times that I have not written about, or given full disclosure about something, but I think it has more to do with me than them… We’re all different and do things differently and that’s OK, right Colleen? ❤
    Diana xo

    • I have been fiercely protective of my adult children; not so much of siblings. But that is deliberate. You’re right, we all reach a comfort level in time. Thanks for chiming in. ❤

  4. My family know that I blog but they don’t read. They prefer straight from the horse’s mouth on Skype. My in-laws do read my blog but never comment. I don’t modify what I write but then I rarely write anything deep and meaningful. On the rare occasion that I write something that makes me feel vulnerable, I let it sit as a draft for quite some time precisely because I wonder how people I know will react (as friends from back home also read my blog). The most difficult thing I’ve written was about the birthday of my stillborn son, the first I’d experienced since leaving Scotland. Ultimately I decided I had to publish it because it was my truth and part of my experience of the ups and downs of immigration and also because I’m committed to breaking down the taboos surrounding stillbirth and baby loss. In the end, you have to decide if you are writing for you or for your audience. I write for me and an audience is a surprising bonus so I only have to ask myself if I feel comfortable pressing the publish button. Everyone else’s thoughts and feelings are their own business. I hope that makes sense.

  5. My two cents. Just follow your heart, Van. There is no right or wrong way.

  6. Erika Kind says:

    My husband reads my posts too. I don’t know if he reads all of them. Also my mother does. But you know what? I don’t care a bit! This is my blog, my way of expression, my way of sharing what I wanna share. Everybody is welcome to visit my blog. Whoever doesn’t like it is welcome to leave again – no matter who it is.

  7. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, a very thoughtful post! Since I rarely write personal opinion or about family posts, I’m not concerned with prIvacy issues. When I feature a family member or friend, I clear it with them first. So far, no problem! My faithful blog followers are not family. My opinions and thoughts are read by my blogosphere friends. I think I’d feel the same as you if I did write about personal stuff. I’d not want family reading it. It’s much like writing a memoir. With parents deceased, I can free write about them. I clear things with my sister telling her some of it will be creative fiction writing. She laughs, thinks my brain’s a little “different” anyway, like most writers. In the end, I have to alert family to read a post & they sometimes “like,” but never comment. Christine

    • First off, about that “different brain”..lol. We all get that one. You and I have shared since the beginning, and so you realize that the majority of my posts deal with distant past; parents are long gone and it seemed harmless, at least to me; not sure some of my more guarded siblings would think so. These will all get turned over to my children some day; my hope is that they will be glad to fill in the blanks. Thanks for your comments.. so very appreciated since the get-go !! ❤ Van

  8. writerinsoul says:

    I made some choices going in, and I’ve been able to keep to them. No names of anybody. My first name only, no specific location or identifying photos (although I somewhat promote by blog in my immediate community – it’s not anonymous). I did not specifically tell any family or relatives. I won’t write anything that I can’t live with ANYBODY in the world reading. Which is not to say everything I write is jolly & uncritical or impersonal; only that before hitting “publish” I picture myself being confronted online or in real life by an unhappy reader (hasn’t happened) and what I might answer in response. I.e., what’s the worse thing that could happen?

    Of the critical things that I write or those that reflect somebody else in a not-great light, I think “If you didn’t want me to write/say these things, you should have been nicer to me.” Now it’s mine to tell.

    All that said, I am discriminating as to what I’ll tell. There are things I expect will never turn up in the blog for one reason or another. But that still leaves a lot open.

    • I hear you, Colette, and I should thank you and acknowledge that a while back,in a comment, you asked if any of my family knew of the blog and its somewhat sensitive issues. In many ways, that question inspired this post. And I love that !! I have always admired the courage of those who publish their intimate details, especially as regards childhood trauma and abuse. I don’t seem to be able to cross that line in the sand too freely. But that’s ok; as you say, “that still leaves a lot open”. As always, thanks for your contribution. 💕

      • writerinsoul says:

        Van, I need to start jotting down the blog ideas I get from other people’s blogs, comments, etcetera. If I don’t write the “inspired” post right away, it tends to drift away.

        I wrote a draft way back in the beginning of my blog on the fears we have of being “mocked, judged, & ridiculed” in writing our blogs. I never published it but your post makes me think of it or revisiting it.

        One way to approach writing about sensitive stuff, I’ve found, is to wade in, pick a story, and see how it goes. If people understand, how they respond, how I feel after. And, you can always delete it! (I have never deleted a post, which isn’t like me. Somehow the blog is exempt/different.)

      • I have an ongoing draft in WP where I keep writing prompts, kind of a digital version of the “notebook by the nightstand” that I used for many years. You wake up, think of stuff, jot it down and can’t remember what you meant when you see it in the morning! A fun exercise that often leads to great stuff. I have 30 or 40 topics in there right now that I’d like to address. One at a time. ☺

      • writerinsoul says:

        Ohhh, I like…

    • Angie Mc says:

      I like this, “Of the critical things that I write or those that reflect somebody else in a not-great light, I think “If you didn’t want me to write/say these things, you should have been nicer to me.” Now it’s mine to tell.”

  9. Maria says:

    Sadly my mum have some how found my blog 😦 I feel it is restricting me, but I am trying not to let it. And she has asked me to take the blog down too, but like I tell myself and her, this is my blog about MY journey. So it will stay. For now. But I am conflicted.

    • I’m sad for you, Maria. I could never have written this blog if my mother was still alive. Of course, I never really healed when she was alive. I understand, and I wish you well. 💕

      • Maria says:

        I totally understand the feeling about not healing until after she has passed. It is the way I feel deep in my heart, but never have said aloud to any one. Thank you for your support, truly appreciate it ❤

      • Isn’t it amazing that there are so many kindred spirits here on WP ? It just serves to reaffirm one thing…we are not alone out here ! And for sure, we are all more alike than different. 💕

  10. Amy says:

    I told my dad about the site awhile back and he read a few posts and then stopped. I’m glad because I can write much more freely without worrying about what he will think. One of my daughters reads it and the other says it would be too hard for her. The same is true for my sisters. In my case it is on a person-by-person basis, and there are a few people I wish I hadn’t told about it, because I do hold back sometimes knowing they may read it. On the flip side of all this is that I realize I can write in a way that is genuine while also not compromising my own privacy too much.

    • It sounds like you have found that balance that I’m looking for these days, Amy. Thanks so much for your candid response. My father, so intensely private about the important things in life, would have been mortified. Sisters, maybe, brothers…never. I get it. ❤ Van

  11. My husband knows about and reads my posts. That’s fine by me. However I would never tell my mother about the blog and deeply regret telling my sisters about it. I’ve even considered taking my blog down and starting a new one for that very reason. There are certain things I would love to write about but can’t because I would not intentionally hurt anybody with my true feelings about things that cannot be changed.

    • My husband and partner of 45 years knows I tend to be “long on words” lol. When I asked if he wanted to read the blog…he gave me that knowing look. I will most likely select a few for him….doubt he will return on his own to poke around. I feel for you regarding the sisters. I’m sure that would be the case for me. There is so much denial in my family…we can’t even discuss the mental health issues that are so prominent in our gene pool. So…never ! You may have hit it right on, Barb, with the “things that cannot be changed.” Thanks for your candor. Always appreciated. 💕 Van

    • Angie Mc says:

      Thank you for this, Barbara, “There are certain things I would love to write about but can’t because I would not intentionally hurt anybody with my true feelings about things that cannot be changed.”

  12. I know my sister subscribed to follow my blog – I recognized her email address when it came across. The SQO mentioned the other day that he’s read me – especially when we were going through our little spat. I know my dad has read a post or two, but never comments.

    I offer them annonimity in NOT giving out names, because on the wider ‘net, names have the power to harm as well as identify – and I do keep some things behind my ‘digital’ teeth as to not rock the boat.

    Do I mind that the family has access to my blog? No. In fact, I encourage them to read me, if only to give them a broader understanding of what, exactly, goes on between these ears-o-mine.

    I think most of them are scared to, unfortunately. They’d rather be confused over the really, REALLY strange sibling/daughter (and hope that it’s just a phase) than to try to understand me.

    • Wow, Peg…behind your digital teeth ?? what a concept !

      I, too , have embraced anonymity and I believe I’ve been careful in not leaving digital footprints. But, who knows, really. No one has stepped forward to comment, so I continue on, unimpeded . Ignorance is bliss ??

      Not sure anyone really understands fully what goes on between these particular ears..that is scary enough for me ! Thanks for chiming in here. Love your response. ☺ Van

  13. gluestickmum says:

    I’ve decided that if I’d feel comfortable telling a friend about something over coffee/drinks then it’s fair game for my blog. My older daughters read it – it sometimes holds me back, but not too much. The most nervous was when they first found it, but as one of them said ‘everything you write is the truth. Keep telling it.’ I’m not sure my husband would see it the same way. But then he never gets invited to coffee/drinks with my friends for the same reason. 😉

  14. Ahh…that which is shared over coffee/drinks, or even better for me…breakfast. My own husband has been pleasantly excluded, his request. I’m not sure he would appreciate the intimacy of those conversations..I’ve tried to talk about it afterward..his eyes glaze over a bit and he finds something urgent to do in the yard/garage. lol Some truths are universal. Thanks, GSM. ☺ Van

  15. Angie Mc says:

    Van, my blog is public. Family and friends know that I have a blog. I link it to my Twitter page. This definitely affects what I write about and how I write about it. As if this isn’t enough of a self-imposed shackle, they don’t read it or support it. Or they do so randomly. So that’s a whole other layer of “What the…?” I can see changes in circumstances that would change my reticence in posting about some material. We’ll see.

    Oh, my husband has started to chime in at my blog. How cute is that? He’s in the comment section as Dave – no gravatar. I bet Dave and your husband would get along just fine 😀

    The good news for me is that I can come to your blog, Colette’s blog, John’s blog, Mark’s blog, Barbara’s blog…to engage in material that is more sensitive in nature that just won’t make it onto my blog right now. Thank you for that. I hope wine cooler recipes offer a bit of payback ❤

    • I so agree on the freedom of the dialog on others blogs..those are really special, and some of the most self-revelatory of all !! Sometimes, doesn’t even matter what the original topic was…sweet to see how it diverts. ☺ Wine coolers are sweet, but not as sweet as the word exchange, Angie. Thanks, always. 💕

      • writerinsoul says:

        You are right, Van. The comments are often personal/intimate, maybe because people feel safe(r) when it’s as if they are talking to one person? Or that comments feel “tucked away,” less public than a blog post? In the exchanges some magic is made indeed.

      • They do seem less public, I like the idea of “tucked away”. I wonder how many go back and read the comments in the thread that were posted after theirs ? Probably not too many, unless you are directly addressed. Interesting.

      • writerinsoul says:

        Van, I think most people move along. I remember someone saying posts have an “8 hour shelf life” (which is sad, actually). There are certain posts’ comments I will revisit – this one for example – but the nature of the beast is that it’s always moving forward.

      • I always thought so. Thanks, Colette. That’s the one thing I liked about Facebook, you could tag a post, matter how old, and get someone’s attention. ☺

    • writerinsoul says:

      Angie, thank you for mentioning me in that group. I thought of something else (after initially reading your comment here), don’t know if it’d be useful to you. Someone was wanting to reveal more in their blog, I think in part because of things I’ve written in mine. I said I had nothing to lose, and maybe that’s a useful way for someone to frame it; what might this cost me?

      • Angie Mc says:

        Exactly. I weigh costs connected to the harm other people could be caused due to unintended drama. Personally, I can take a lot of heat…but there are some tender souls in my circle who I want to protect. Besides, I’ve found a way to write about the principles that are important to me in a way that satisfy my need for substance from time to time. You know, wine coolers 😉

  16. I am of the camp of the more anonymity the better. I’m starting to regret having told a few people of my blog. I haven’t mentioned it in a while.

    • I’m inclined to hang out in that same camp, Rex. I’ve only told my immediate family; even though I don’t blog about them, friends will most likely never know. Thanks for the comment. ☺ Van

  17. mandy says:

    This has been a real bugaboo for me, Van. When I began my blog no one knew, I didn’t use my name and I didn’t put up my picture. Then I wrote my book and was told I needed to make it public so I could reach more people with my advocacy work. It’s shut me down in feeling free to say whatever I want now. I may start another blog as well just so none of my family can read what I need to keep private while I’m needing to work on something.? But it’s so personal Van. Don’t feel bad if you want privacy.

    • You validate my concern, Mandy. I have seen several bloggers that had to reincarnate themselves here, just to re-establish privacy. I don’t want it to get to that point. I understand why your publisher needs you to self-promote, but that has to be such a challenge for you. You have my respect, and my sympathy as well. Hugs to you. ❤ Van

      • mandy says:

        And I rarely self-promote. My blog was never meant to promote a book, and I only talk about it if it pertains to a topic I’m writing about. But beware, once you open up your blog, you can’t go back. So think long and hard about what you want to get from your blog writing. If you need a place to feel safe to write as you wish I’d vote anonymous.

      • That makes so much sense to me. You can’t go back. Thanks, Mandy. 💕

      • mandy says:

  18. olganm says:

    This is a difficult issue, not only from a personal point of view but from work, etc. Not only something in a blog but something one Tweets, etc, and create problems. I only started blogging when I wrote and published my book as a way of publicising it, so there was no point in keeping the blog secret and that had never been my idea behind it. But I’m also aware that anything out there in the public domain can come back to bite us, and considering how everything is integrated and linked, probably the only private things are the things we truly tell no one.
    Ultimately we need to be happy ourselves with what we write and why we write it. And hopefully everything else will fall into place

    • You’re so right, Olga, and I didn’t even consider the complications with work and career. I started this after a blessedly-early retirement. ☺ Wisest part of it all…”we need to be happy.. with what and why we write” Otherwise, it’s just homework…and no one needs that ! Thanks so much. Van

  19. roweeee says:

    Thanks for opening up this can of worms, Van because it is a serious issue all writers have to address: how much do you tell and how much do you hold back? Like other commenters, I don’t mention my kids by their first name on my blog and I have been a bit vague about where we live. My blog is quite personal in a sense but the reality is that I actually hold back a lot as well. I really am only putting bits out there and I am sometimes surprised when I find a comment and then I will mention a few more details to clarify things. While I don’t want to put everything out there, I do want to have an accurate reflection of me, my values and our lifestyle. Integrity is very important to me and in blogging, that means recreating enough of myself and my voice in my writing without selling my soul. xx Rowena

    • I’m with you on the integrity issue. I also find it hard to have an authentic voice if you are always editing out your true thoughts to protect others. I’m so much more comfortable writing about the past for this reason, being protective of my children going forward. Thanks for your very thoughtful comment, Rowena ☺ Van

  20. megdekorne says:

    Hi dear Van …I think it’s different for each of us …Michael once commented on one of my posts where I revealed 12 intense facts of my personal life into one of my series that it was ” risky but holy work ” … some of my immediate family asked me questions after reading as it was stated rather raw … but the truth of it ,stated in a simple list ,was powerful and revealing in its healing , as I believe the truth always is . . . I hope this helps you somehow … P.s. It wasn’t impulsive but thoughtful and I felt an openness to write it from how it came back to my memory in a quiet moment as I watched Jack cutting down a dead tree … I sensed the Divine .
    Love , much love to you Van

    • Welcome back, Meg ! I remember that particular “risky but holy” post, and I so admired your courage in its telling. The list was genius, and maybe easier to handle for loved ones. It’s so true..the truth will always win out. Thanks for weighing in on the topic. ❤ Van xoxo

  21. lbeth1950 says:

    I threaten my family with mine!

    • Somehow, that does not surprise me. ☺ lol

      • lbeth1950 says:

        Actually,I protect my children’s privacy. I don’t post anything current about them. I clear anything I am going to post about my family before I post. I don’t post things they are sensitive about. Many names are changed. Lots of my characters are long dead.

      • I’m with you on that one. My children, now both adults, are complex and crazy and extraordinary, but I won’t write about them. They are so digitally connected, both in their work and personal life. I’m sure anything I write would get back to them, somehow. The only real name I’ve used is my mother’s…interesting. Maybe it’s because she’ been gone so long..since 1980.

  22. LaVagabonde says:

    I think I told you that my mother, and now my niece, are the only people in my family who read my blog. My husband doesn’t because English is not his first language. I would like my brothers and sisters, etc to read it, but they just aren’t interested. I write some personal things about our family, but I’m careful about it. I’ve changed some names or just use initials. They know I’m writing a memoir, and I’ve asked if they want me to use their real names or not.

    • I started that memoir effort years ago, but was sure that my family would object. Anytime I bring up family tragedy or mental health issues, they glaze over and walk away. I’ve been told that I’m too intense. I agree. But, if you can’t talk about the stuff that binds us as a family, then what’s the point of small talk? I have plenty of other folks for that. As the years go by, I will give up the attempt. Just not quite yet. Thanks, Julie, best of luck going forward with your work. 💕

  23. Firstly, about reading comments, I had no intention on reading these 70 comments…but you all sucked me in! Van, I’ve seen your comments here and there on Angie Mc’s blog, but have only now, with those post, these comments (yours and others’) decided for sure to click that follow button. I’ve told Angie previously that as a new blogger I like the true camaraderie between bloggers and their followers. You certainly have it here as well. Anyway…as far as posting personal bits, I’ve not done so and I’m not sure if I will or not at this point. I have 1 cousin, my brother, my fiancé, and my (step)daughter who read my blog. Actually, I really don’t think my daughter (she’s freshly 14) reads it. Its not often enough or interesting enough for her at these early stages. If I did chose to write personal feelings, I would keep them in mind, but I would not alter my words or leave things out to “protect” them. Yes, I would write initials or use nicknames, or something like that, but the thoughts would stay. If I ever get to the point where I write something that personal, my brother and fiancé pretty much already know the meat on the bones to the story so there would be no surprises for them when I began writing more specifically about tendons, muscle, and blood. As for my daughter and cousin, well I think I would give them a heads up before I either hit publish or right after. That way it would be up to them whether or not they wanted to read it. If my daughter (again, this is my stepdaughter) read it, I would ask her if she had any questions and I would clarify or elaborate on anything she asked. I wouldn’t tell her not to read it. She’ll do that for sure if I told her not to. Lol She is 14 after all. So all I could do at that point is be honest, open, and help her understand. This would be the same for my cousin too. The only thing I wouldn’t want any of the aforementioned folks reading (except fiancé) would be something on the naughty side. Lol And I have absolutely, completely, 100% none of that going on! Mine is certainly NOT that type of blog!!
    PS — thanks to all the commenters. I got something out of each thought.

    • Wow. Your line ” already know the meat on the bones to the story so there would be no surprises for them when I began writing more specifically about tendons, muscle, and blood.” That’s genius !

      I know what you mean about reading all those comments, but to me, that’s where the good stuff lies. Welcome, Jenny, so nice to have you here. ☺ Van

  24. Outlier Babe says:

    I intended from the start to remain anonymous. It…without going into details, I messed up.
    I had been trying to save a potential relationship with my lost children, but that was a sad pipe-dream I needn’t take into consideration.

    I have altered real names of people in almost every case. I have messed up there, too, and once posts are posted…oops.

    • Several blogging friends were encouraged by publishers to “come out” with their ID. They have regrets. I’ll never use my real name, and struggle to not talk about my adult children, trying to preserve their privacy (and maybe their dignity…I too, have filtering issues ).

      • Outlier Babe says:

        I…think I’ve decided that since my “children” are almost 30, they have written me off, and they have publicly told folks I’m nuts–I think it’s time I just lived my life and told my story. My healing involves telling part of theirs. I’m taking steps where I can to soften blows. For instance, I don’t care about their father, but I didn’t want to embarrass them, so in the Autocidal series, where I was describing painful orgasm to my doctor, I said their (future) father had an average-sized penis, when really he was a pencil-d#ck.

        Ooops. See what I mean?

      • OMG..I don’t use that often…well, almost never. It is all I can get out as I nearly choke on my coffee. Ooops…I get it !!

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