Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm So Sorry!

Whereby I am inconveniently reminded just how public a forum this is... AFTER I failed to consider it and so hurt some feelings...

So when I wrote my tribute to my step dad on Father's Day, it was intended as just that. I wrote it as I understood it, and gave you some of the details that I thought emphasized the point... namely, some history related to his first marriage... well it never crossed my mind that... you know... people I really KNEW would see, and I've really upset a few people... most specifically, a couple of my step-siblings... and I get it... she is their mom.

My step-sister accused me of having an agenda, but it is honestly just the opposite. I forgot how potentially PUBLIC it might be around here. When I write my blog, I am writing to my online friends with whom I have developed a relationship, and who do not and WILL not ever know the real life people in my life, past or present. I want to share the good of my life, but it completely didn't cross my mind my REAL LIFE friends/family might see and take exception.

I really never meant to hurt or harm anyone. I feel very badly about it. I really do sincerely offer my apology.


So it's not a total loss, I thought maybe you all could learn from my big blunder.



KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Of COURSE you know the audience you are WRITING for, but who else might see what you have to say? I know from my own decisions that there are stories that need to wait. I have one that has a skeleton in the real life my grandfather led that I know can't be written until a couple people I love who might be hurt are gone.

With fiction, I think just getting things into the right place is protective—you publish with a blurb that discloses enough... in a genre that gives fair warning... I think unless you include real life details that aren't solely yours to share, you are probably okay. Non-fiction doesn't have a lot of place in fiction.

I need to carry that thinking forward into other stuff. I know to be careful HERE to not show it if I'm feeling frustrated with some component of the writing system... and I know not to slam other writers, though I never feel compelled to so that is sort of unnecessary knowledge... but I DID go off on that 'dark YA blogger' last week... (attacking her views, not her, but I said some rude things about people who agreed with her---the term delusional might have been thrown around). I guess I have thus far tried to limit any negative to public figures that can take it... except when I have real life frustrations... and maybe that is what came out here.

The problem is thinking my story is MY story. There are other players, and they bring to it something different-- different background and experience. Their perception of the experience is different and, as I should know from HWMNBMOTI, they carry a different opinion about privacy. My TMI motto is not universally held.



The Other Piece?

When you get called on a big goof... take it. Two of my step-siblings responded negatively—personal slams for what I said... I could respond back personally and negatively—or I could argue—try to 'prove' my point, but that doesn't solve anything. It escalates it. I just need to realize what is right... see the truth of my mistakes through the mean language. Realize they are responding out of being offended. I need to just apologize and go forward.

And I really AM sorry. Especially with my step-sister, with whom I have sometimes had a close relationship—I feel very very badly.

Please accept my humble apologies for not thinking more clearly and for not realizing the effect my words might have.

32 comments:

Trisha said...

Gosh, it never would have occurred to me that your tribute would have hurt some feelings, but I guess that's the whole point - you're right, it's important to know your audience!

Christine Murray said...

Sometimes even if you have the best of intentions, you can accidentally hurt someone's feelings. We've all been there. And you're right about knowing your audience.

Summertime Rose said...

Hiya Sweetie!

I write, and speak, my truth, with the knowledge that my family will never, ever agree with me. I don’t back away from it, but I consider what they might someday read, and attack me for. I try to remain civil and kind of vague about them. I expect they’ll try to sue me for mentioning them, even if not by name, if I ever succeed (and make money). I write pure fiction, but they’ll see themselves in every unsavory character.

’Tis a puzzlement.

Old Kitty said...

Oh Tart!! I'm sorry about what's happened. Oh dear. I hope your step siblings will forgive. You did a wonderful tribute to your step dad and I hope they see this as your overall intent.

I'm always very careful about what I blog about especially when it's real life. I fret forever before I post. I think that's why I stick to Charlie - he doesn't mind so long as I give him his treats!
:-)

Take care and keep being your lovely NAKED self! xx

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

I didn't get it that way, but then it wasn't personal to me.

At least you apologized for hurting feelings. Some would not do that.

Heather M. Gardner said...

I realize that you changed the wording of your previous post and I did not have the opportunity to read the original.
I did however read the venomous comments written by your step siblings.
Truly, if someone had a problem with what you posted they should have contacted you directly and not in the comment section of your public blog. If they were bad mouthing you for posting family business they should not have done the same. And they should not have tried to embarrass you or rip you up in front of everyone because they had hurt feelings.
They accuse you of poor judgement but don't measure themselves with the same ruler.
No matter what was said the fact that you wanted to thank this man for making a wonderful addition to your family was truly the message that came across.

mshatch said...

Communication is one of the hardest things to do well. Sorry this happened.

Siv Maria said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. It is hard to juggle as many balls in the air as you do. I am sure you never meant to hurt anyones feelings, no one ever does.

L.G.Smith said...

Well, I'm always sticking my foot in my mouth and accidentally offending people. It's never my intention, just a side effect of having short wiring from my brain to my mouth.

If you look at my Mega Post of DOOM entry a few days ago you'll see the picture I keep on my desk to remind me to keep my mouth shut. :)

Apologizing is all you can do. If you really meant no harm then they'll realize it in time. It's not unfair to ask them to see your POV too.

Hart Johnson said...

Trisha-thank you! It can be hard to anticipate all the audiences, eh?

Christine-thank you!

Summertime-I don't make people actual characters (at least not people I know well) but I really didn't want to stir things up--this was completely unintentional, not just a 'consequences be damned' thing.

Jenny-well if Charlie had thumbs, you might be in trouble.

Teresa-thank you!

Heather-I appreciate what you're saying--I think they responded in anger, and that is tempting. In their defense, they aren't used to having to filter. I SHOULD be.

MS-thank you!

Siv-that too many balls isn't insignificant. I often blog tired and my filter doesn't work as well as it should.

Hart Johnson said...

LG-I am glad not to be the only one. In person, I usually just am quiet, but online I am more 'out there' and I forget there is a bad side of that that I need to watch.

Michael Offutt said...

You gotta be careful with the internets.

Johanna Garth said...

The good news is it sounds like your family supports you by reading your blog religiously! I find whenever I get in major disagreements/screaming fights with my family it all stems from the fact that we love each other too much. How can too much love be a bad thing...right? Funny how love can be twisted up and painful sometimes.

Barbara said...

Yup. I have almost walked in your shoes -- about to publish something then suddenly realizing: Nooooooooo! But still, I respect your honesty, both before and after the fact. Something to cherish and celebrate, Hart.

Hart Johnson said...

Michael-you said it.

Johanna-oh, I don't think any of them had been here--had they, I would have considered it a possibility, I think.

Thank you so much, Barbara. I really do try to stay on the 'kind' side of honest, but I guess I fell down here.

Helena said...

If none of your relatives have threatened you with arrest or bodily harm (and yes, I've been there), then your relationship with them can't be too damaged. I hope your friendship with your step sibs heals completely.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think you're handling this really, really well. :)

Although I'm super careful (too careful?) I've also been surprised by who exactly is reading my blog. For some reason, I tend to believe that no one I know reads it, no one in my town reads it, no one from the town I grew up in reads it...and this is apparently wrong. :) As I've found out several times! I think you're right--better to assume our audience is *everyone*: current and future employers, next door neighbors, mail carrier, our 90 year old children, our great-grands...bleh.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for you, Hart. Hopefully they accepted your apology. Trust me, it sucks when you apologize repeatedly and it's ignored.

Cold As Heaven said...

That's the simple reason why I blog anonymously. There's only one single person I know in real life who knows about my blog. I don't want to hurt or insult anyone, I just want to write >:)

Cold As Heaven

Cheeseboy said...

I've had a very similar thing happen to me on a post I did a while back. I think you did the same as me - just say you're sorry and move on.

Hart Johnson said...

Helena-ACK! Yes... at least not arrested! You are doing a very good job with the diaspora thing... at least it wasn't that! (sorry if that is from a perspective of knowing!)

Elizabeth-thank you! I know you'd never fall into such shenanigans--and I'm not at all surprised you have a local following!

Alex--I know at least one won't accept, but I hope the others will. I've seen a lot of that though, family grudges, and they do suck. Sorry if you've been involved in one!

CaH--Surely wise! I maybe shouldn't have tried so hard to promote with people I know...

Abe-it's the best option, I think. You could REFUSE to, but that just makes you look bad to some. You could ARGUE it--that makes you look bad to MORE, and I suspect rarely gets anywhere... I think I missed your SNAFU--sorry there was one!

Will Burke said...

I think that we've all got a good foot-in-mouth story, and the grief can physicly hurt. Sorry about your family getting up-in-arms, but I'm impressed to see you acting like a grown-up about it. Even if you do want to streak around like a toddler :)

RosieC said...

Good luck with the siblings. I missed the post, and have semi-boycotted fathers's day, so I probably won't. But I admire you for your stand-up, honest way of dealing with the situation. Well done.

Hart Johnson said...

Will, you're right there--I've been tense--honestly most upset that my parents will be affected over my stupidity.

Thank you, Rosie! I appreciate that--I try to own it, if nothing else.

Missed Periods said...

I wrote something once that offended a friend of mine. When I wrote it, of course I never would have imagined it would hurt her. In fact, I thought she'd like it. It's a tough one. All I could do was apologize.

Anonymous said...

It does seem like you frequently write about "real life" people, whether it be family or people you work with. Unfortunate when you do put your foot in your mouth--it's happened more than you seem to realize.

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm so sorry this happened. I read the revised post and thought it was lovely, but didn't have a chance to read the original.

I'm careful about what I post on the internet, but I'm sure I've offended and will continue to offend, even though that's not my intention at all.

Hart Johnson said...

MP-I remember a blog post to that effect--I guess we live an learn.

Anon-(Kari?) This was bigger, and I hope I have learned from it. sometimes it takes something big.

Medeia-thank you. I will, I'm sure, continue to goof, too, but I will certainly take a closer look from here on out.

Jan Morrison said...

Oh, that is too bad, Tartlette. I must admit that I had a bit of a lurch but then I like how brave and out there you are in your blog and try to emulate that to some degree. I had to be very careful when my dad was alive because he always read my blog and didn't get the ironic tone sometimes. He wouldn't get mad - just mystified or scared that I was sad, broke, fricked up, etc... But now he's gone and I think I'll truly write anything I like without wanting to hurt people. I don't feel like holding back much. I wrote about my Dad's alcoholism on Daddio Day and no one has said boo.
Who knows. It is clear you are truly sorry. Love ya kid...

Hart Johnson said...

I love you back, Jan! Thank you!

Claire Chilton said...

Aw Hart my foot's permanently in my mouth, if I take it out then words come out, and that's never good! lol

I hope it all worked out okay with your family, and thanks for the great article - one day I'll think before I speak, one day... :)

Boonie S said...

You did nothing wrong.
Take care.

Have a good week, Boonie