Last night we were cleaning out the guest room, which quadruples as the craft room, my husband’s closet, and the ‘I don’t know where to put this crap’ room.
There, among the “crapus-buildus-upus” as my father likes to call it, was a huge pile of the Belle View Voice, the monthly newsletter my former condo association publishes. In 2007, I started writing a section in it called the ‘Belle View Mini Tales’. Each month, I’d write a slice of life story before I knew what a slice was. I read a few from the stack.
The story of the time my fumbling, lovable dog and I visited three different homes before I realized she had fleas.
The story of the time my pregnant friend pointed out the ‘cutie’ at the pool who turned out to be kid in a Spiderman bathing suit.
And my coda, my swan song, the good-bye I wrote when we moved out of the neighborhood.
Reading these articles that spanned 8 years, I realized something. They sound like me. They’re from a very different time in my life, but they sound like me.
But now, I can’t quite decide if that’s good or not. I like that my voice feels authentic, that my girls will read about their young single mama someday. But there are so many stories I’m not telling when I only write slices.
I’m not telling the story of the American girl whose mom is deported.
I’m not telling the story of the boy who is feared because of the color of his skin.
I’m not telling the story of the girl who lives in the back of a car because her mother has a drug problem and can’t pay rent.
As a writer, can I write the pain from someone else’s life? And if I can, should I?
I want these children represented because their situations are real even if they are not. But, is it my place to tell their stories or would I be replacing someone else’s voice with my own from the land of privilege?