Painfully Honest

Well, I started off the month with the idea that I wanted to enter a short story in a contest, complete two essays to post and apply for a NYFA Artists’ Fellowship before the end of the year.  It’s the ninth of December.  I have given up on the short story.  Really, I set it aside.  I’ll come back to it at some point.  There was just no reasonable way for me to make the deadline.  Now I am focused on the NYFA application but thinking about the essays too.

I’ve shared one of the essays with my writer’s group and will continue editing that to submit.  The main thing on my mind is how much to put in and how much to leave out?  I had written it one way, then took out some information before sharing it with the group.  I struggle with this because there is some information that feels too personal to share, but it is integral to the story I am telling in the essay.  I think it would make it a stronger essay and reach more people that need it.

How honest do I need to be?  How much should I share?  How much is too much information?  Some essays that I have posted in the past have been painfully honest but I also know, from feedback, that they have touched and helped people who were truly in despair.  It’s one reason I use a pen name, to give myself a little greater level of comfort.  At this point, I am inclined to put the information back in, publish and be damned.  Will I cringe and take that bit back out before publishing?  Only time will tell.