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On writing about love (or lack of it)

In the last year, I have written poems and blog posts about a wide range of twenty-something topics. Loneliness, ‘adulting‘, autumn, body image, marriage, single life…even not sharing my chocolate.

However, there is one topic I haven’t yet broached.

As a writer (I still chuckle inwardly when I say that, but that is what I am!) I feel that I must use all of life’s experiences as fodder for my poetry or prose. And indeed I do; but out of all of the things that have happened to me, my past relationships and forays into dating have been the most eventful and emotional, yet remain the subjects I rarely – almost never – write about.

I hint at them, yes; but I don’t go into detail.

My dirty laundry remains unaired.

I have so much to say about my experiences with break-ups and dating-in-your-twenties, but none have, so far, made it onto paper (aside from two rather vague Honest Haikus…). Until now, I haven’t quite mustered the courage to look back and turn them into stories to share.

I’ve been thinking a lot more about this recently – I even chatted things over with my mentor last week – and I have come to the conclusion that I’m still simultaneously worried about crossing personal boundaries and upsetting people, while also still trying to process what the hell happened, and is still happening, years on.

It takes a while; love and loss are hella confusing.

(Yes, I just said ‘hella’. Can I pull it off? No?)

I so desperately want to use the lessons I’ve learned, the hurt and the rushes of emotion and put them to good use, but I’ve yet to work out the best way to do this.

Perhaps some things are best left alone; perhaps it’s good to have some experiences kept secret, personal and unsaid.

The problem with blogging and writing is that you get into the habit of oversharing; if everything is kindling for a poem, is anything sacred? Does everyone need to know everything about me? Isn’t it nice to have a little mystery?

We poets aren’t known for our privacy.

But I like sharing. I love telling stories and writing about my experiences and thoughts. Sharing my tales with you, with my friends, with strangers on Twitter, somehow makes me feel I’m making a bit of a mark on the world and leaving something behind; proof I existed, proof I felt…proof I was me.

So maybe I just need balance. Picking out certain memories, certain emotions, and playing with them, using them as inspiration, pairing them with my imagination to make something entirely new. Perhaps writing totally truthfully one moment, and adding a little poetic license the next; sharing, but not everything.

This year, I’m aiming to delve into these more difficult topics; it’s time. The last part of the process of the breakups that happened a decade ago and less; the chance to revisit dates that didn’t develop. An insight into my own faults; an opportunity to try and find the words for the memories and feelings that bubble up inside me.

Whether I choose to write a comedy or a tragedy, I think the main thing is balance; respecting privacy and finding a limit. I won’t be spilling too many beans; I won’t be writing with malicious intent, hell-bent on revenge. That would be unfair.

I just want to write pieces others may relate to; to entertain, and to remember, and to process.

So, if by any chance you’re reading this, and we dated, loved, or kissed; please don’t worry. I’ll be gentle. And if you’re reading this in the hope I’ll be turning my funny dating stories into prose and poetry…you’re in luck.

But I still have questions, and a lot to learn about writing about my love life – or lack of it.

What is oversharing? How do you tackle the voices that tell you that you’re revealing too much? How do you write about relationships without worrying about stepping over the line, upsetting people, or being too open? Do you keep it vague? Keep it symbolic? Indulge in a metaphor, or four?

Answers on a post-it, please; I could use a little roadside assistance on this journalistic and romantic journey of mine.


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