I think that if you’re a writer, you might be able to fully understand the concept of self-censorship, better than someone who does not make it a habit to write down their thoughts, or write stories that are designed to have readers.
We all censor ourselves when we’re around different people – what you sy to your best friend for example, will definitely be different than what you say to your grandmother. But as writers, we tailor our narrative voice in a certain kind of way, to the audience that is reading, and often times, this leads to censoring the self in a more literal sense than most people do in their daily lives.
I keep a journal, for example. And in my journals, my thoughts are extremely upfront; I actually used to hold back in older entries. I’ve lied in journal entries and made claims that I enjoyed things I didn’t enjoy, or liked people that I didn’t actually like. And since then, I’ve learned to be more honest with myself in words, and my thoughts have, because of that change, tended to flow better (ie: completely filling 5 1/4 books in five years). This candidness is easy when I have the knowledge that no one will ever read what I have just written, except myself, at various points in my life.
I think once I know that somoene will be (hopefully anyways) reading what I have written, the writing instantly takes on a different life; it becomes showier, less rambling, more focused (ideally, anyway) and I tend to try harder. In my fiction, I tend to move toward poetics and turn on a switch that forces character and soul into the story that mimicks the candidness of my journal entries, while being still a piece of what is meant to entertain.
A couple of years ago, I took a film class in which I learned about the concept of a celebrity’s ‘star persona’; that is, the image that they create for themselves when in the public eye. A theorist (I regretably can’t think of his name; Richard Dyer perhaps, though I might be mistaken) claimed that we can never know the star’s TRUE persona, their private life. Because as long as there is a camera rolling, they will act differently and take on their public persona. I think that different narrative voices; public and private, mimick this theory quite accurately.
If anyone ever does read my journals (GOD FORBID), they might see differences, or they might see similarities, between that writing and my fiction. I find though, that this ‘blog’ is kind of an amalgamation of both, although there are still things I would never say directly in this project that I might say in my private writing. Thus, there is again a kind of playing with censorship that occurs with blogging as well; that is, tailoring and editing yourself in case your thoughts and fiction fall into the wrong hands.