The Words I Do Not Write

Categories Life, Self, Words

There are many things I don’t write about on my blog.

For starters, you won’t find a whole lot of controversy here. In my experience controversy tends to arise from discussions that center around the topics of religion, sex, and politics. A wise man once told me that religion, sex, and politics have no place at the kitchen table. I have found that to be a very good policy and it is one to which I adhere. Of course I have beliefs and opinions in these areas, but I find it works best for me to exercise and express them in more private venues.

I never intended this space to be one that would delve into these hard topics. Truth be told, I never intended this space to be at all. This blog started on a frustrated whim, born from a need to exercise my stifled creative muscles. I definitely started with no preconceived notion about what this space would – or would not – become. The fact that it exists at all nearly five years later is still somewhat of a surprise to me. Because I am such an intensely private person, sharing anything about myself, my opinions, my family, or my feelings is simply out of character. For a while, I remained completely anonymous, for various reasons. After a while, I was comfortable with a first name – but for me only, never my family, and not even for my cats. And now, as I stand on the precipice of publishing my first book, well, I suppose it will kind of be unavoidable to be go all in.

And don’t think that doesn’t terrify me.

Very few people know I’m about to publish this first book – or even that I’ve been working toward that end. (See? The non-sharing thing.) Why haven’t I been shouting it from the rooftops? (Because as it turns out, in the world of book marketing and author branding and such it’s kind of imperative that one shout such things from any available rooftop.) Fear. I’m terrified to share that bit of information because holy crap what if the book launches and nobody reads it or buys it or cares about it? What if people do read it and buy it and care about it but they think it sucks? And what if people do read it and buy it and care about it and they love it?

Every one of those possibilities terrifies me.

A lot of things terrify me.

There are stories I have written and tucked away, not to be shared here or anywhere else. They are stories that cover a wide range of topics, topics I think I won’t even list here because really, what would be the point? To tease and tantalize? To seem mysterious? That’s really not me. Some stories are simply not mine to tell and some stories do not need to be told. Maybe some things are best held in my heart. So before I share those things – if I ever decide to share those things – I want to be certain there is purpose in the telling. My purpose here on my blog and in my life is to live deliberately, to strive to learn about, grow into, and become the best me I can be. Perhaps exploring those hard-to-tell stories does lead to a better way to live, to love, or to be. But that isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s hard. Really hard.

And all of that terrifies me.

I often encounter the idea that we must do and write the things that scare us. I can see the merit in facing our private demons. But not all battles are meant for a public arena. Not all plays are meant for a public stage. Not all stories are meant to be told.

My untold stories are mine alone. But those sacred stories will always be a part of who I am, both as a person and as a writer. They will often color the words that I do send out into the universe. Those stories are always present, even though they may be words I do not write.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.

This week our sentence prompt is “I don’t want to write about…”

FINISH THE SENTENCE FRIDAY is a link-up that enables writers and bloggers to share their ideas based on a particular sentence. To stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our FACEBOOK GROUP! 




Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

26 thoughts on “The Words I Do Not Write

  1. When I first started blogging, I wanted everyone to read it. Now, often, when friends & family tell me “I read your blog” I am shocked and immediately start re-reading each post in my mind to see remember what exactly I wrote. That clouded the lens when I am writing becasue I will type something and think “Ugh! What is so&so reads this one, too?!?” I tend to be a more private person also, and I am terrified of upsetting/offending people I know. Congrats on the book!

    1. I do exactly the same thing, Lisa. 😀 And I completely understand that fear of upsetting, offending, etc. Sure there are things that would make great blog fodder, things I see other writers put out there on their pages. I think a lot of people write for cathartic reasons – as do I – but not all things need to go public. Sometimes I think working out those more private, more sensitive things are better written on pages that aren’t seen by other eyes. At least that’s true for me. But doing that writing privately definitely helps me shape the rest of it.
      Thank you!

  2. There is always that fear of leaving ourselves exposed – to judgement, criticism and maybe even ridicule. All people who indulge in creativity suffer the same once we put our thing out there. It is a great leap of courage to publish but the sense of achievement is worthwhile. With things we produce not everyone will agree or like it. Expect that but do it anyway. If everyone ‘loves’ your work it must surely be dull! Or maybe Winnie the Pooh.

    Good luck.

    1. That is all very true, A.J. It is a huge leap and it is a huge part of ourselves we put out there for all the world to see. No easy feat, especially for those of us who prefer the introverted way.
      I do love Winnie the Pooh, though…always a favorite.

  3. Helena tells me that this was very much a motivation for her anonymity. What if it was horrible? She wanted the work to speak for itself, and for the reader to enjoy it for the story’s sake, and not have any sort of pre-conceived notions based on the identity of the writer. The adulation of strangers who owe you nothing is so much sweeter and honest than the praise and encouragement of friends and family.

    1. I completely understand that motivation. Somehow the praise of those who love you feels obligatory, even if it’s meant in the utmost sincerity. It’s the “you’re my mom, so you have to love it” factor.
      Helena’s Singularity is still hands-down one of the best things I’ve ever read. Mind-blowingly good.

  4. I’m so glad you wrote this Lisa – I was following the thread in our FB group and knew you were torn. Kudos to you for writing a book! I can imagine the fear of putting it out there, but know you have a loyal and supportive community behind you.

    Your final two paragraphs spoke to me. I agree that not all stories are meant to be told, and they do not need to be told in order for them to be valid and important, and a part of who you are.

    1. Me, too, Dana. Kristi’s prompts always force me to think about the tough stuff. 😀
      I’m really excited about the book. This current leg of the journey feels oh so slow and tedious…but I’m pushing forward!
      I’m so glad you found something good here today. I really believe that. We can always choose to write what we want – but we can also choose not to. It still all matters.

  5. There’s a lot I don’t write about that I could without hurting anybody or anything but I don’t feel comfortable putting myself out there with some issues. Other times, I’ve written something that I didn’t think was a big deal really and people went crazy angry or whatever over it. I cannot WAIT to read your book. It’s going to be fabulous, I know it!

  6. I am thinking hard on this week’s prompt before I write/post. I do write about a lot of topics many people might think are too private, but some things I do keep to myself. I am working on writing personal essay vs public confessional. I believe there is a differenced.

    So excited about the book. I will buy copies for my nieces and nephews.

    1. Definitely a difference, Kerry. I’m sure whatever you decide to write will be just the thing.
      We’re excited about the book, too! We’ll keep you posted.

  7. And never forget: you have found your voice in writing and we’re all better for it. We’ll ALL be here, cheering you on, hoping that we get to relish the gift of the literary word that you’re giving to the world. There might be those that don’t appreciate your gift – just as there are plenty who don’t appreciate mine – but to those whose path you light up? THAT. That is what we live for. So shine on, Bright Star, and honor your sacred journey with the blessing you are. CONGRATULATIONS! <3

    1. Aww…you are just the BEST! I can’t tell you how much I love this. I appreciate your words – a lot. I love reading you. I’m excited about this first kids’ book and I’m also very excited about the novel – WAY early stages, but it’s taking shape. And I am totally in love with it. Is that weird??? 😀
      In the meantime, I think I might change my name to Bright Star. Because it’s really cool. OR! Maybe I’m going to get business cards and under my name put “Bright Star” like my job title? Wouldn’t that be fun? 🙂
      Either way…I’m shining. And really thanks so much. xo

  8. You made a wonderful point here… that we harbor fears not only of misunderstanding or failure, but also fear of success, because we’re not quite sure how to handle it and what it will entail. Being aware of your writing talents, I have every reason to believe that your children’s story will be a wonderful book that will be appreciated and enjoyed. I can’t wait to read it!

    You are wise beyond your years when it comes to sharing, some things aren’t meant to be shared with all, some things are, and sometimes we can benefit from sharing, and others will also find meaning in what we reveal. I totally agree about sex, politics and religion being touchy topics. I get tired of being bombarded with political posts on Facebook and don’t want to read or respond to them in blogs, just not my cup of tea. Politics can be a great way to ruin friendships, even though that seems really silly. I also don’t want the details of someone’s sex life or the lack of it, please! 🙂 I do share some religious posts, but with me it tends to be more about faith and spirituality than religion in the traditional sense, and I think that it’s essential to realize that not everyone believes the same, or should, and we need to exercise tolerance and respect both in the way we present things and the way we respond to them.

    I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, your family, and your furkids better as time has passed, and I have no doubt you’ll find the middle ground between sharing and protecting. One day you will find yourself writing about your beginnings as a published writer… wait and see! XOXO

    J’s Journal: Betrayal

  9. I often think about how we must write/do what scares us, and I seem to do that quite a bit! I don’t do religion or politics much at all. Not sex either, for that matter, but I have for sponsored posts and I have kept it strictly third person.
    There’s a lot here! About the book! That’s huge! I’m like an open book on my blog at times, but there are things about marriage, parenting, career, etc. that aren’t my stories to tell.

    1. That’s what I think, too, Tamara. Some things about our family life may be particularly funny or poignant or whatever, but I always have to remember that the privacy of my family is important – and not solely my decision. When I do share things along those lines, I run it by them first. And the other stories I have? Well, like you said – not mine to tell. Awesome maybe or helpful or powerful, but not mine to tell. I think if they’re meant to come out, they do in other ways.
      Yes, the book is my huge thing right now. Working on editing and moving the first drafts of both words and images to a second draft that I can get in front of beta readers and get this thing moving! Right now I feel very much like it’s not moving fast enough.

  10. I understand this soooo much, Lisa. Believe me, I have a treasure trove of stories not for public consumption too. It’s so important to discern what is to be written and what is to be secret. Many people have made extraordinary accomplishments in making a difference in the world when they shared their private stories, but it’s really a very personal decision. I’m not comfortable taking those steps either.


    And if you recall, I didn’t say a word about mine until it was pretty much out- because of the same reasons. I’m not comfortable pushing my stuff or having a loud voice in this scary online world and honestly, I always dream of having a VA or promotional marketing person do all that stuff. It’s not my thing.And it’s kind of imperative that it is. LOL

    1. Beautifully said, Chris – that’s exactly where my head is.
      The book is a kids book based on the antics of (what else?) our three cats. First is well in process and we have plans for several more. I’m hoping to release by end of June. And that reminds me…I owe you a review. I promise I didn’t forget. Just…life, you know? I’m behind on all of my reading, all of my reviews. But it’s coming because your book is wonderful. xo

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