Real Authors Welcome Conflict: Learning to Grow Up as an Opinion Writer

The great news is, another piece of mine got published last week. It’s called “Real Boys Wear Dresses”. (I know; great title, right?)  It’s in a great publication called Mamapedia.

The problem, for me, is that it’s generating discussion among readers.

This sounds like a good thing, but I am only just now realizing…when I write pieces that have an opinion in them (as this piece does), I need to be emotionally prepared for disagreement. Now, if you head over to read this piece, and you scroll down to the comments, you’ll see the push-back is only two comments, both from the same person, but when I discovered them I still felt compelled to shake Erik, who was just falling asleep next to me in bed.

“Wake up!” I said, hitting his leg for emphasis. “Listen to this! What should I do?”

In trying to figure out why conflict makes me so uncomfortable, I remembered that a friend of mine once called me “smarmy”. Then he said, “I mean that as a compliment.”

Which is a bit like punching someone in the face, then saying, “I meant that as a hug.”

The thing is, there is some truth to what he said. I am, at heart, a peacemaker. I like people. I mostly get along with most of them, most of the time. In casual interactions, I avoid conflict.

People who know me are already shaking their heads, because I’ll also say the thing that no one else wants to say, the thing that people are avoiding, but that’s different. That happens in settings where we all agree there is a problem, and we’re trying to find a solution. So, even if I upset some people, we’re all still on the same team.

I love being on your team! I love being on anyone’s team! So much so that, in daily life, I actually work pretty hard to be flexible. Accommodating. Nice.

It’s weird to have an alter ego, but in my writing, I feel free to just come out and say what I actually think. Now, I need to learn how to prepare myself for disagreement. It’s another area of growth as an author, a friend, a human.

Meanwhile, I’m going to resist writing a note back, apologizing for offending anyone with my essay. In fact, I’m going to learn to be more like my son Angus, the star of “Real Boys Wear Dresses”, who is a master at being himself, no matter how others feel about his wardrobe, his favorite color…or his opinions.


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