As writers, we can be confident of our protection under the First Amendment, a wonderful thing. But are there times when the right to our words blurs, are there times when the line isn’t clear, when our words could do more harm than good? What do we do in these situations?
I was recently talking to a close writing friend who struggled with such issues. She’d been writing a fictitious story surrounding a real-life event from her past, involving one of her parents. The event was painful, but my friend had forgiven her parent and was twisting it into something good. Her story of redemption was born of a desire to help young girls who had gone through similar circumstances.
Nearing the end of the writing process, my friend was assailed by doubts. Of course she wanted to help others, but would she be hurting her parent in the process? No matter that the parent had been completely at fault, that the sin was theirs to own, my friend wanted to forge a relationship, not break it apart.
After a talk with her parent, she became even more discouraged. Said parent was against her writing such a story.
What to do?
When my friend came to me with her problem, I could see the passion she held for her story, the desire to make beauty out of the bleak ashes of her past. But could such beauty come to light beneath the disapproving heavy hand of her history?
When I’d last left my friend, I felt some of the old anger at her parent churning. She would write the story, and that was that.
Part of me cheers her on. Her past is her story, and she could do what she pleases with it—particularly in the fictional world.
Another part of me doesn’t want to see her relationship with her parent further bruised.
So sure, we do have a right to use our words however we want, but my question to you, my blog-readers, is this: are there times we should opt not to use such rights? How do we decide between the costs? Should we dare stop the opportunity of good overcoming evil?