Courage is 75% of the Battle When Writing Non-Fiction

Short non-fiction is my jam. I gobble up the words when I read it, and feel rays of enlightenment when I write it. Writing non fictional pieces about the experiences in my life is exhilarating, but it’s also terrifying. There is the ever-present fear of do I remember that correctly? or what if I insult someone by telling MY truths? And then there is this little thing called social media where people don’t forget it you say something incredibly stupid. Nope, you can’t burn that embarrassing opening line because it’s on your blog and guess what, hundreds of people have already read it.

I will be honest, there are things that I have wanted to write about, but are so personal, embarrassing, raw, etc. that I have held back. I know that family and friends read my pieces (thank guys), and I want to make them proud. I don’t want to hurt anyone by the things I say. And then I read about women and men who tell their sexual assault stories. Young boys who were gang beaten and had the courage to speak up. Parents who lost their children to mass shootings, the horrible list continues. My point being that thousands of people have to face the verbal assault on social media after telling their horrific stories and I want to tell them all how much I deeply admire their courage. When I think of the writers who have been persecuted for their work I am deeply humbled.

The women of Mirman Baheer, a women’s literary society based in Kabul Afghanistan risk their lives to have their voices heard through their poetry every day. Let me say that again, RISK THEIR LIVES to have their poetry heard….it’s 2016. One woman by the name of Zarmina committed suicide in 2010 after her brothers beat her and ripped up all of her poetry notebooks. She was reading her poetry to her fellow female members on the telephone and they assumed she was talking to a man. Another female Afghan poet wrote this about the tragic death of Zarimina,

“Her memory will be a flower tucked into literature’s turban.
In her loneliness, every sister cries for her.” – Amail

My writing dismay is incredibly petty. I know that my fears are minuscule in my privileged life. Sure I may get a few troll attacks, I may offend, but like Kingsley Amis said,

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”

Thank you to the men and women who have made significant change through their words. Thank you for giving other writers the courage and confidence to stand behind their writing. I humbly bow my head to the people who know true sacrifice by telling their experiences.


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Author: Rachel McKee

I love reading about everything. I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my toddler and baby. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

4 thoughts on “Courage is 75% of the Battle When Writing Non-Fiction”

  1. Hi Rachel, I know that fear too. My new blog is nice and tame, and will stay that way. But I have another one waiting in the wings that may never be published here. Why? Because I’m afraid of offending people. I’m afraid I’ll lose my little group of followers on my current blog if they were to read the non-published one. I’m certain it would offend. It will be voicing my true opinions about social issues that I feel strongly about, and I already know (from reading, of course), that the majority of society won’t like what I have to say.

    Thanks for sharing this post about courage. I can relate. And while I too feel humbled by those courageous women you wrote about, it still hasn’t given me the courage I need to begin this second blog. I’m stuck in the ‘comfort zone’.

    Best…Melissa 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melissa, I’m excited to check out your blog. I know it’s hard to state your opinion when it doesn’t jive with the rest of society, but I hope one day you give it a shot. As a reader, I have read many pieces that I don’t “agree” with but I respect the writer for arguing their stance. I have also been persuaded to see topics from a new angle. I do understand the hesitation though, I’m working through it as well.

      Liked by 1 person


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