Would You Like More Trauma With That?
One of the reasons why I like writing on Medium and on my own blog is that I have more control over a story. I get to say how it’ll be told. I choose what gets left in and what gets taken out.
When working with editors of physical and digital publications, there’s a sense of having to give up some of that control. Of course, they have their views on what they want from a story that is entirely valid. But sometimes their bottom line isn’t necessarily the same as my bottom line.
And after many unsuccessful attempts of pitching to digital and physical publications, I kept running into this particular issue.
Me: Hey! I think I have a great story
Editor: Okay, we’d love to hear it
Me: Here you go (sends over idea)
Editor: This is interesting, but I think we can go a bit deeper here. Could you share a bit more of your trauma, please? Like really dig deeper into your pain because that’ll really elevate the story.
Me: Erm… I guess
I love reading personal essays. Reading someone else’s experiences gives me a window into their mind, what they’ve been through, how it’s impacted them, and their perspective on life in general. And it’s not just what is being written, but how it’s being written.
But the other side of all this. On the other side of tone and pacing and grammar is a person reliving the vulnerable moments in their life.
To really give a personal essay that extra “oomph”, how much more pain should a person have to revisit?
When I write, I have an idea of where my line is, the line between what I consider to be oversharing and what I consider to be useful and interesting enough to have in the public domain. I want to share something of value, or at the very least entertain.
So whenever I write something and send it off and the feedback is to make it more personal, what I hear is, “we want more trauma”.