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Having the last word

There’s something that’s always intrigued me about Carrie Bradshaw. I mean, there are many, many things, but there’s this one in particular. (In case you’ve been living under a rock, Carrie’s the main character on a little show called Sex and the City where she writes a column for a New York City paper.)

She writes about sex and being single and dating in Manhattan (and occasionally some other boroughs). She writes specifically about her experiences with sex, being single and dating in Manhattan. Her experiences. Which means that her column is a tidy, often hilarious and always poignant take on what’s happened to her and around her. (Um, yes, I’m writing in the present tense, they are making the 2nd movie as we speak and talking about a 3rd, so she’s alive and well as far as I’m concerned.)

But the best part (and the intriguing part) is that she gets the last word via her column. Every time. Every single time. (To quote her in Season 4 – if you actually name the episode in the comments below, you will be rewarded somehow.)

Worrying about Tom, Dick, Harry or Jane

When I was writing about finding voice and speaking with authenticity the other day, it occurred to me that when you talk candidly, you might rub someone the wrong way – you could even hurt them. For instance, I offended people with small dogs. But Carrie never seems to let this cross her mind. You never once hear her say (over the course of 6 seasons and 1 movie), ‘maybe I shouldn’t write that because Tom, Dick, Harry or Jane might read this’. She’s unapologetic in her forthcomingness. And, I might add, she also happens to be an exceedingly nice person.

Yes. I (kind of) know it’s fiction. But I’m a writer and a dreamer, so I can’t help but think about those poor characters opening the paper and reading about their relationship failures or their small (well, you know) or how they tried to suck Charlotte’s face off or about how they broke up with Carrie on a post-it note.

Tying it up

This heroine seamlessly wraps it up, sticks a bow on the end and closes her laptop. How glorious is that?

It doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s no longer happy or pissed off or sad or mulling it over. Though I can only guess that having the last word helps with some of that. We, writers, know that writing it down – last word or not – is therapeutic and critical. But, as writers, as bloggers, as journalists…do we always get the last word? Or is that just the ‘stuff’ of really good cable TV?

Image credit: Kill Pop

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • dava says:

    It’s scary. Even when what I write is innoculous I worry that someone will read it and somehow be offended. If I write about my own life on my blog, I try to imagine how any of the “characters” would feel if they recognized themselves, and that probably hurts the quality of the writing. Thanks for pointing out I’m not alone in those worries!

  • em says:

    It’s the reason why I write under a pseudo, though I have invited enough friends to read that I do fear offending. I have learned to curb my desire to gossip, so to speak, and focus on my take of a situation. There are plenty of things that happen in my life that I would like to write about, but no, I don’t think we have the last word, because everyone’s take on a situation is different. I do try to take that into consideration, but there are some posts I publish that I do say “what the heck” and hit the button.

    I have a button on my blog – “Saying what I mean doesn’t mean that I’m mean.” It colors how I write, but it has always been my fear as I tackle fiction – will someone in my world see this character and automatically thing – “that’s me!” It forces me to be more creative – never a bad thing.
    .-= em´s last blog ..I can always say "I knew them when…" =-.

  • Erin Brenner says:

    There’s a quote I half remember by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (I think) that I’ve never been able to find again about how her poems are like her children. She creates them, raises them, helps them wash their faces and put on their Sunday best. But once they go out into the world, they’re independent from her.

    Once our words are out there, we can’t control how people will perceive them and what people will do with them. Like children, we have to let our words fly on their own to make their mark on the world. Sometimes they need a little advice from us (maybe we need to explain what we meant), but mostly we can only discuss what we’ve written with other people and watch how our words shape the world and how the world shapes them.

    Writers don’t get the last word, ever. We just give birth to the conversation and watch it take on a life of its own.

    (If you’re familiar with the quote I’m talking about, please let me know what I’m only half-remembering!)

  • Julie Roads says:

    I love where you’ve all taken this post with these glorious comments. I’m bound and determined to find that quote, Erin!

    Thanks, all – for widening the scope…

  • Ron Miller says:

    The whole beauty of the blogging is that, at its best, it’s a conversation. The newspaper columnist may have the last word, but that is so 20th century. In a blog, you can communicate with your readers and they with you. In fact, you shouldn’t have the last word. You should be the conversation starter (which you often are, Julie). The ability to interact is what makes a blog a social platform and is my view which makes it so much more interesting than the old model. I might have written Carrie a letter (if she really existed, of course), but nobody but Carrie would have seen it.
    .-= Ron Miller´s last blog ..eBooks Don’t Have to Replace Physical Books =-.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Great point, Ron. I only take issue with one thing: “IF she really existed”? She does, Ron. She does. Should I write a post about how real she (and other classic characters) are? ‘Cause I could. Oh, yes, I could.

  • Perfect post for me right now! I am writing a memoir about my dating experiences. I worry about the men I talk about being upset, my mother’s reaction, my adult sons.. and what kinds of judgment might come as a reaction to my work, should I get published.
    What I’ve come to realize is that it is “my” story, colored with my perceptions. Part of the drive is to share what it’s like to be in this situation, to own the experiences I’ve had.. good and bad. And, to be respectful of myself enough to have it be just fine. As you say, it is about me being authentic… and it’s not always easy.
    .-= delicate flower´s last blog ..Buying sex toys as gifts =-.

  • Edgy Mama says:

    I actually label some of my columns as “Not Safe for Dad.” So my Dad knows ahead of time what he’s getting into.
    .-= Edgy Mama´s last blog ..Weekly parent: inducing childbirth (or at least trying to) =-.

  • Andi says:

    As someone who must ALWAYS have the last word all the time I know exactly what you mean. Whereas it might be awesome as a writer it sucks with in-person interactions which is why I could not do Alisa’s “accepting defeat” Karma project thing…NEVER!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Ordinary World by Elisa Lorello, a novel that is in no way ordinary =-.

  • Mary says:

    As a weekly columnist that has been writing two different columns for two different newspapers for almost 10 years now I used to worry about how people would take things if I really, really expressed my opinions. Then I started meeting some of my readers and getting emails and letters and phone calls and I realized that they were all involved in the conversation with me. Some heard me really well, some half way and some, well let’s just say they were still tinkering with their hearing aids because I wasn’t really sure what they thought they heard. It didn’t take me long to realize the only one that was honestly, truly hearing what I wanted to say was me. Were my words actually conveying the tone and the tenor of what I wanted to say? Only I could answer that. And in the end I think it has made me a better editor of my own work.

    I don’t censor my work any more because of what I think someone else might think and some of my opinions are not ones that are easy for every one (I’m a pretty militant and unapologetic environmentalist) but they are my truth. And by being honest and saying what I think and feel I have actually gained a larger audience in the end, including those that don’t agree with me about a lot of things. It makes for lively and often informative conversation…

    Great post. Carrie would be proud ;-)
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Business Tips for Artists and Writers =-.

  • do bloggers get the last word? Only if they close comments. :)

    I do love your point about Bradshaw’s ability to tell it like she sees it with no regret or worry.
    .-= lynn @ human, being´s last blog ..Random Tuesday Thoughts =-.

  • Jack says:

    I rarely if ever worry about offending people. I write for me and then everyone else. It is a personal blog with my personal thoughts.

    People don’t have to read it. It is like a lot of things in life, a choice.
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..A Restaurant Surprise =-.

  • Amanda says:

    Bah. It’s easy to cow-tow to what everyone else wants you to say; to be unassuming and mild. To be bold and fierce? Now that takes confidence. It takes chutzpah.

    Our job as writers (and readers) is to generate the conversation that keeps the writing (and reading) going. Let them eat cake, perhaps?
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..A Simple Nod to the Extraordinary =-.

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