For the third time in the past month, someone has assumed that something I wrote on this blog pertained to them, and in all three cases, they were wrong. After reading a post offering advice on choosing a potential spouse, one of my friends assumed that the comments written about my wife were actually a veiled criticism of his wife and the way in which she fails to conform to my advice.
“No,” I explained. “I was writing about Elysha. That’s all.”
In a post on the reasons why I do not compliment students’ physical appearance, a friend and colleague assumed that I was referencing her recent compliment of a student’s new haircut while in my presence.
I explained to my friend that:
- The inspiration for the piece was an article that I quoted in the post
- I had no recollection of her recent haircut compliment
- Regardless of my opinion, teachers comment on student appearance every day. I could have been writing about anyone.
Despite all this, she was still convinced that I had been writing about her.
Another person assumed that my post on the soul-crushing nature of meetings pertained to a meeting that she had recently conducted.
The origins of this post were actually two years old and pertained to a two-day training session in which the outside facilitator wasted much of our time on inane minutia and assigned our seats as if we were rowdy kids on a school bus.
It was during this training session, as my anger boiled over, that I first refused to give the speaker an approving nod.
The idea about refusing to give a speaker an approving nod remained on a list of ideas in my journal for a long time until I found myself in another soul-crushing, non-work-related meeting where I once again refused to give an annoying, time-wasting facilitator the approving nod.
It was in this meeting that I began to write the post longhand.
Granted I cannot recall a single meeting in my entire life that I actually enjoyed, so my feelings about meetings in general extend beyond this particular soul-crushing incident, but I’m pretty sure that most people find meetings difficult to bear and share a sentiment similar to mine.
But she had assumed that my post was directed specifically at her, and it was not. I work as a teacher, an author and a DJ, and I am also a life coach and minister. I meet with all sorts of people and find myself in all sorts of meetings and training sessions.
I could have been writing about almost anyone.
But at the same time, I understand the reaction of these three individuals, because in all three circumstances, it was easy to assume, based upon personal circumstances and unfortunate timing, that I was writing about them.
Recently I was meeting with one of the people to whom I serve as a life coach, and I was demonstrating the ways in which I organize my thinking and writing. I showed this person the lists of possible ideas of have for blog posts, newspaper articles, short stories and novels.
These lists, separated by topic, span six pages of a Word document.
Then I showed him Evernote, the place where I collect my ideas when I am mobile. There are currently 32 separate entries in Evernote under the idea heading, and each entry pertains to an idea that might eventually become part of a blog post, newspaper article, short story or even a novel.
Then I showed him Live Writer, the software that I actually use to write a blog post. There are currently 18 partially written blog posts in my Live Writer account, the oldest spanning back to March of 2010.
Sometimes an idea takes a long, long time to germinate. More often, a single idea is not enough, and I am waiting for something else to connect to it and allow it to become a fully-formed thought or idea.
Even yesterday, as I was sitting in a training session, I filled a notebook page with five new ideas that might eventually become blog posts. These were ideas born from the discussion we were having in our group, as well as my reactions to certain aspects of the training. I may never write about these ideas, or I may not write about them for months, but when I do, someone may once again incorrectly assume that I am writing about them.
In most cases, I am not.
Here’s a good rule of thumb:
If I’m writing a piece that is critical of a friend or acquaintance based upon something that he or she has done, I will likely wait a long time before writing the piece in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, and I will probably write it in such a way as to conceal the true origins of the post.
This does not apply to certain friends who do not care and welcome the criticism (see Shep), but those people are few and far between.
But in most cases, I attempt to conceal identity and true intent whenever possible.
Of course, in doing so, it appears that I may risk offending someone else who now incorrectly assumes that I am writing about them.
If this is ever the case, I suggest that you approach me directly, as the people I described above did.
I will always be honest with you.