Should I Apologize for What I Wrote?

An Angry Message From a Friend

Yesterday I received a message from a friend in which she expressed her anger about something I’d written in my book. The book was published over a year ago and I gifted a copy to her right away. She’s been carrying this anger for over a year. In this message she voiced her displeasure that I wrote about the circumstances without her permission and did not write it with compassion. She ended the message with “don’t do it again.”

My quick response to her message: “got it.” That’s it – that’s all. I’m guessing that upset her all over again.

Why was my response so short and quick? It may have seemed quick but my brain whizzed through so many thoughts in an instant, that I felt like I was on the Bullet Train. Welcome aboard my train of thought on this …

Stop #1: OMG someone read my book!

Please forgive my glee that someone I’d gifted the book to actually read it! You see, as an author, you can hold your breath for a very long time waiting for feedback. Eventually, you reach the point where you focus on the accomplishment of actually publishing the book and almost hope no one reads it. You know now that you could have done so much better; maybe it’s best if no one reads it.

Stop #2: I started wondering why a few other people haven’t reprimanded me.

There are probably other stories in the book that don’t reflect well on others. Isn’t it just the way that awkward or otherwise unpleasant circumstances are our greatest learning points? I guess they just haven’t read their starring part. 😉 Or maybe they are angry with me and just not as brave as this friend.

Stop #3: Defense!

My dear friend, I’m pretty sure I didn’t require your permission as I didn’t name you. I guess you didn’t catch the part where I expressed my admiration for you. And dammit that passage was about me! That passage was about how I came to awareness and appreciation of myself! How dare you make it about you!

Stop #4: Wait a minute!

I had to stop and think for a minute about this. Do I owe her an apology? Did I misrepresent something? Did I accidentally use names? Am I sorry?

The old me would have immediately begged for forgiveness. That begging would have included a lot of justification and … bullshit. The begging would have been to keep you happy and would have had nothing to do with my actually being sorry for anything.

Thank-you friend for showing me how much I’ve grown as a person and as an author. I told my story from my point of view. I cannot be responsible for your point of view. If I had to ask permission from everyone who might read my book, who may have been a part of my journey, the book never would have been written. The book HAD to be written – for me. And maybe, just maybe, my story will be a contribution to someone else out there who thinks they’re clumsy and not good enough. Maybe that one other person, through my book, can come to know how brilliant they are too.

(There will likely be a whole other post on another of my blogs about the compassion thing.)

Last Stop: Got it.

Yes, I hear you. No, I will not feed your need for drama about this. No, I will not apologize that you interpreted my writing in such a way that it hurt your feelings. That type of apology negates everything: my experience, my writing, and our friendship. I am not willing to diminish my writing or the way I see the world. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point and no, you may not take that away. Thank you for showing me that!

I acknowledge your anger. I will not take ownership of the cause for it. Yes, I’ve got it. That does not mean I will hold it. Am I being uncompassionate again?

To all my Author friends:

Do not apologize for your writing unless you have truly done something unethical, illegal or written with the intent to hurt. Write your truth. Write your point of view as honestly as possible. Please don’t let anyone diminish you through their interpretation of your writing. Write on!

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