I’m always writing, even when I’m not writing, perhaps because I have a tendency of seeing my daily life as the breeding ground for material, the great big meeting where I take the notes that I’ll use at some time or other. In my head, I take notes on just about everything: the way a leaf floats on top of the river before getting sucked under the current, the sensation of lip gloss, the strangely warm/cool smell of freshly-turned springtime earth, the careful choreography of flirting. Whether I ever use these notes or not is inconsequential; at least half the time, the notes themselves are more important than anything I have to say anyway.
What I’m mostly recording in my brain, however, is other people. The way they talk (or don’t), the way they move (or don’t), the — okay, you get the point. And then the people I know, well, they’re constantly starring in what I write. Certainly, I try to remove any evidence of this by rigorously rearranging pieces and turning things inside out and upside down before writing anything, but I always wonder, when I’m picking at one relationship or person (or an amalgamation of several of them), why I think I have the right to write any of these things. And whether it’s okay. And if there’s ever a point where it stops being okay. And if that point ever stays the same.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks, because I have some things I’d like to write, but I don’t know if it’s fair to write them. And for reasons too numerous to list, I can’t ask for permission.
So maybe I’m asking for advice, but I think it’s something that writers have to think about from time to time — where’s the line between fair game and selling someone out? If you share an experience (and you happen to be a writer) does it belong to you? In your own writing, how do decide which things you write and which things you don’t?