How Much Is Too Much To Confess?

Mostly Manic Monday: On how much to reveal about yourself confessions

Just how much should we share about our lives in the virtual world? For each of us it’s different. For some nothing is off limits, while for others even writing under their legal name is too terrifying. I’m somewhere in between, but probably on the less is better side of the spectrum.

I don’t think people would be interested to know how difficult it is for me to find shoes for my Herman Munster sized feet, or how when I find a pair of jeans my body is happy to slide into that I will buy out every pair in stock. What would people think of me if they knew on my bookshelves I have two complete sets of the Harry Potter series, both the American and British version. What about the two and three copies each, of Lonesome Dove, Prince of Tides, Jane Eyre, Atlas Shrugged, and Scarlett that can be found in my bookcases? I can’t even explain why the titles are favorites. I’d be hard pressed to explain why every time I read The Long Good-bye, I pretend I’m one of Chandler’s dames. Seriously.

Writers in the digital age are supposed to be open and honest. We’re expected to expose our humanity and vulnerabilities, and dispel the image of being lofty and intellectual. Psssh. I put my Spanx on one leg at a time just like the next person and call 911 after I’ve hiked them over my bum. Then, I pray they don’t roll down my legs while I’m standing in line for coffee. But the truth is I favor keeping a few secrets, fueling the mystique of Brenda, the reformed, or is that recovering, introvert. I like gabbing as much as the next person, but there is an invisible line I struggle crossing.

secretsI have a past just like the next person. There are skeletons, some baggage, there is the tale of the unreturned libraries books—at least two—the boy whose name I can’t remember, and the one I will not likely forget. My highlights are not genetic. Somewhere out there are pictures of me taken after too much Tequila. I’m not overly keen confessing I had to sit through Statistics, not once, but twice, or that I needed a tutor to help me through high school Algebra. And I may be a writer but you’d never find me filling in the tiny squares of the New York Time’s crossword puzzle.

What would my first boyfriend—assuming he knew I thought of him that way all those years ago—found out I had a crush on him in high school on my blog or my first author interview? I suppose if Jerry Springer were conducting the interview it wouldn’t be out of context. Right? Right. And then there was that lover, the one who broke my heart. Would it surprise him to learn that because of him I write romantic tales of love, loss, heartache, regret, new beginnings, and life ever after. It’s OK for Taylor and Adele, but a curvy Latina in the burbs using tidbits of her life as fodder on the page. I don’t think, as least I hope he doesn’t, read the dedication. Fingers crossed.

For a reformed introvert it’s painfully uncomfortable revealing the intimate details of a life spent in the shadows. On the other hand, being just out of view has taught me a great deal about human nature and our behaviors, and has been a constant source of fuel for my over active imagination. Some would say it’s the optimal vantage point for a writer. I listen when I shouldn’t be. I see what’s not meant for my eyes. Maybe that’s why I continue to struggle with how much to confess is too much. I haven’t a clue but I suspect there is a spectrum ranging from fun and fascinating to uncomfortable and painful.

What are you comfortable sharing about yourself on the virtual horizon?


I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

30 thoughts on “How Much Is Too Much To Confess?

  1. Laura Strickland

    Great post! And that’s from one recovering introvert to another. It takes a certain amount of courage…and daring. I think you’ve hit a good balance!

  2. Ashantay Peters

    Another great post! I’m also an introvert, but find working out old struggles on the page is the way to go. I don’t have to leave the house for psych visits. Also, I can deny the villain is based on that sleaze ball I dated (Oh, no way! I’ve forgotten all about him!). Meanwhile, I know I’m lying, yes, lying about the resemblance. It’s kind of fun in a twisted sort of way. And no worries about long jail sentences…

    • Aww, thanks Ashantay. And yes, that is the best part about writing fiction. We can say what we want and no one really knows what’s fact and what is not. Wicked writers we are..

  3. Brenda, I feel like I know so much about you but that’s because I think you come through in your writing more than you know. 😉 I tend to be an open book online. Excuse the bad pun. I’m pretty much the same in person as I am online. In neither place though, while you hear me discuss religion or politics. Those are two things I keep to myself because I believe they’re personal.
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….Monday Mishmash 11/17/14My Profile

  4. Even though I use a pen name there are a few certain things that I would rather keep private because they are too personal. I’m an introvert, but I am finding it easier to share things online than face to face. And I agree with Kelly that you come through in your writing. I learned a lot about you in this post. 😉 I think it’s neat that you have the American and British versions of the Harry Potter series. :)
    Chrys Fey recently posted….The Cat Who Chose Us and Other StoriesMy Profile

    • All this time I thought you were Chrys! :-) It is much easier to talk in the virtual world, but what is difficult is how people interpret our words. It used to drive me bonkers, but I eventually realized there is nothing to be done.

  5. Great post, Brenda. Not all writers are introverts, but apparently a large percentage are. It seems to me we let our voices shine through our writing, so that the essence of our personality is out there willy nilly. But the privacies–like the fact I’ve never worn Spanx–are things no one really needs to know. And there is the safety factor, too. I’ve discussed and even posted pictures of my river sampling site, but I don’t advertise the dates of the sampling. I don’t discuss my kids, especially since I want them to keep me in my old age, and like Kelly, I keep religion and politics out of it.
    Nikki Andrews recently posted….The Shucker’s Booktique, the latest from J.C. McKenzieMy Profile

    • Nikki – I think I am a hybrid to be honest. Work and Social Media have change me. I agree on politics and religion. I think both are private and personal. The Spanx comment was what I call a one liner.. to exaggerate over communicating and to draw a laugh or three.

  6. Great post, Brenda! There’s an entire industry around helping people resolve work-life balance issues; soon there will be another industry to help people balance online-real persona issues!

    Astra recently posted….Yeah, I faked itMy Profile

  7. Brenda – what a spot-on blog posting! As an only child I learned very early on not to divulge everything about yourself – esp. stuff that would be embarassing to have repeated when “freinds” turned out to be “frenamies.” I think we unconsciously divulge a great deal about ourselves thourgh our writing – even by leaving stuff out! I am a big read betwen the lines gal, so I really think this is true.
    IT’s so much better to keep some thing close to your heart ( and vest!).
    Peggy Jaeger recently posted….Almost half way thru NaNoWriMo…My Profile

    • Hola Peggy! Because of what I do on my day job I’ve learned to be chatty with the clients, etc., and can easily talk about my life, but there is some line I don’t cross. As for friends, I am horrible. I like the kindred for all seasons friends, which are not always easy to find.

  8. Great blog, Brenda! Kind of timely, as I made a comment about being a private person in my earlier email to you and how I had to pick what social media venues I was willing to use when I got back in writing.
    I’ve started your novella and love the Latina mom stuff!!!
    Like one of your other comments, your blog and writing are definitely a reflection of your personality!

  9. Aww…this was a fun to read post, and exactly what I’d think appropriate to blog. If I wasn’t writing books and publishing, I wouldn’t hang on any of the social medias. Ok, so maybe twitter, but that’s it…and I’d only share other interesting posts I came across.
    RYCJ recently posted….Mixing Passion & BusinessMy Profile

    • Thanks, RYCJ! Me, too. I have this reoccurring nightmare if I had started writing when I wanted to I’d have a history and wouldn’t have to bother beyond having a website.

  10. I did write a book that was a little close to home as far as one of my high school crushes. It makes me glad my voice was deemed too young for YA. MG doesn’t have much romance–and not too many skeletons. But all of my books seem to really bring up the subject of popularity/non-popularity…which apparently was a bigger deal to me than it should have been! Perhaps writing is our way of getting therapy without having to pay a licensed counselor for it!
    Stephanie Faris recently posted….The Foaming FountainMy Profile

  11. Pingback: When is too much personal info, well, too much? | Peggy Jaeger

  12. I do feel comfortable sharing family stories and personal experiences which point to a spiritual lesson, but that’s where I draw the line. Since my blog is a devotional, I see it as a venue to lift peoples’ spirits, not air dirty laundry. :)
    Great post, Brenda, as always!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….Lord, Make Firm My StepsMy Profile

  13. I think it all depends on how well we know each other. Although I’ve always been very revealing about some of the downs of my past on my blog, I did this to help others not make the same mistakes or help them to recognize when others are failing at life. But there are also things I have kept to myself and have only shared with authors who I have become very good friends with outside of our blogs.
    With all information, we should always be careful and think clearly before sharing parts of our lives.

  14. What a great blog post! And so true. I have to wonder how many writers are natural introverts (*raises hand*), and how much the personal stories make it into the books. :)

    • Thanks, Abigail. I use my life all the time for bits and pieces. Of course, the entire story is never included completely, but there are threads.

  15. By the same token, those real things—how difficult it is to find shoes for big feet, or buying many pairs of perfect jeans—are things a lot of people understand, and I think, why people who talk about them do so well. They are real, and many identify with them. I think honestly fans want to know the writer whose work they love reading is like them. And there are secrets far more personal 😉

    I understand your dilemma, though, and often wonder how much is too much. I always err on the side of less, but my “less” is WAY less than most people’s.

  16. Brenda,

    I adore your last paragraph…I will be sending my blogging students to this post. I walk this line in my own work, and help other bloggers (mostly women) navigate this line. It is such a personal choice…I sort of go at it from the vantage point of really taking one’s time when planning a blog and outlining towards future posts, and then sitting on the draft posts until the absolute green light (internally) goes on. I am a poet introvert intensely navigating this now with first poetry book going public. Thanks for the post…so glad I saw it on She Writes.
    Tania recently posted….Patterns of Incandescence, Indigo Grief and Sky Girl: Tracking the Body When the Book Goes LiveMy Profile

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