All of the recent talk about fake news reminded me of one of my early lessons about the power of the printed word. When I first started writing in my early 30’s I was very idealistic. I considered myself a “motivational writer” and I would write things about going after your dreams or not accepting things in life that made you unhappy, etc. And I had this “fan” who decided to take my words to heart so she quit her job, left her boyfriend and decided to pursue her dreams, with no real plan on how to do that. She would contact me all the time and ask me for my advice on how, exactly, she was supposed to do all of those things that I wrote about. And honestly, I had no idea. I pursued MY writing dreams while I had the comfort of a well-paying job that actually supported me. I wrote in my spare time and didn’t get paid for it. In fact, I “published” my own “positive news” newsletter, out of my own money, and gave them away at places like libraries and laundromats. Writing was my dream but I never would have quit my job and tried to earn a living from it. I was always more practical than that. But I wrote about it and she believed it so she dove right in.
When I started writing about protecting the environment, I always tried to be super careful about not giving out bad information. But it was challenging even then. I mean, which sources were credible and which ones weren’t? I always tried to use government websites or go directly to professors who specialized in whatever it was I was writing about. I’m sure I probably passed along some false info on more than one occasion.
I do remember the time when I wrote an essay about birds that I could hear, but were “too tiny to see” and somebody contacted me because they wanted to know more about these tiny birds. LOL. Really, they were too tiny to see because they are small and were super high up in the trees. NOT because they were microscopic.
So today I mostly just write about my life so whether its “real” or not depends on my fading memory and what I chose to remember about a particular person or event. At least 90% of the time, I remember the best about people. I have no desire to share the other 10% with anyone. Putting things in writing, especially if they get published, DOES make them real to the people who read them so I chose to remember the best and forget the rest.
I kind of hope that people chose to remember me that way, too.