I've been thinking a lot about boundaries this week.
Maybe it's because Child #1 has recently started hugging me while I'm doing things like the dishes, cooking or trying to extract myself from her bedroom at night. She wraps her arms around me, virtually immobilizing me until I stop whatever it is I'm doing.
This is not Child #1's way of saying she needs more affection.
Instead, it's her ingenious method of exerting some control over her mother. She knows I'm always happy to give her a hug and is testing the boundaries of my willingness to drop whatever I'm doing and hug her. Testing for example, whether the affection card works as a way to avoid doing homework, cleaning up her room or whatever else I've asked her to do.
The boundary issues at home made me think about boundaries in writing.
Are there things I would never write about? Words I couldn't even bear to hear even through the mouths of a fictional characters? Or is everything fair game?
I've heard other writers talk about keeping things locked up. They have life experiences that are either too uncomfortable or painful to be fodder for a book. They steer carefully around their writing boundaries, choosing subject matter that, at most, touches at the edges of the things they can't bear to talk about.
But is that the best policy when it comes to writing?
And in the end, aren't most boundaries about trust? Child #1 is pushing my hugging boundaries because she trusts me enough to let her know when she's gone too far.
Maybe trust is the essential piece of the puzzle writers need to develop to push past their writing boundaries. They need to trust themselves enough to let their work go. And once they've started to trust that their work is fit for other people's eyes, then they need to trust that pushing past the boundaries of their innermost thoughts, painful moments and deep confessions will take their writing to a new level.
At least, that's my working theory this week.
What about you? Are certain emotions or experiences off limits or do you push past all your boundaries because you feel like it allows you to better connect with your readers?