The Writing Conundrum

There is a season, turn, turn, turn.

There is a season, turn, turn, turn.

And here we are.

I knew this day would come. I just didn’t know when.

Since I began this writing exercise, I have tried to be as honest and forthcoming as possible while trying to capture the moments of my life as a single father dealing with the aftermath of divorce.

I’ve been both applauded and punished for my honesty.

My favorite writer James Altucher preaches writing as honestly as possible without hurting anyone.

And that’s what I have strived to do.

The Second Date

It was Saturday night. With the woman I didn’t think drank.

Turns out she does a little. Just infrequently and unconventionally.

We had a nice dinner in a high-end downtown restaurant at which neither of us had eaten.

Mussels. Steak. Wine.


And pleasant conversation.

It was a nice night. She had driven to my house to meet me, so she came in when we got back and hung out for a couple hours.

She likes me quite bit. So much so that on Sunday we had to have a conversation about expectations because she asked when she could see me again. I had to answer questions and explain that I am nowhere near prepared to enter into a serious relationship with anyone, and that I have plans this week with another girl.

The other girl?

The jewelry store girl. My first date from four months ago.

She also came over and hung out with me Friday night. We drank a few and laughed for hours. It was fun. So we’re going to do it again.

And that’s where I find myself.

I could feel it all changing over this past month or so. Something’s just… different. And different is good.

It’s like I’m finding the rhythm of life again. The same rhythm I possessed 14 years ago before I became co-dependent on another human being.

I have more fun.

I feel better.

I’m healing.

With that has come more confidence. A little extra pep.

I tried to tell my date last night that I was a pretty insecure guy.

She didn’t believe me.

I’m cooler in person, I guess.

And maybe my opposite-sex friends think so, too.

I have no idea what happens next. No expectations. But my gut says something will.

And what am I supposed to do? Write about it? Air the intimate details of my social life to the world once things take a turn?

That seems like the wrong thing to do.

For me, personally. And certainly for the privacy of people who like and trust me.

This is going to be a delicate balance as, moving forward, I maybe begin to hold back a little more than I used to about the goings on inside of me, and in these relationships, whatever they turn out to be.

I hope people will still consider my writing honest. I always want it to be that.

But I’m just not prepared to jeopardize these friendships by dishing all of the details, nor do I want to subject these people to the judgment of strangers because of my writing.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

I’m not going to play like I’m all better now.

I’m not all better.

My divorce is still the dominant thing in my life, even 11 months after becoming single again. The restaurant I took my date to last night is a place my ex-wife indicated she’d been to before.

I did plenty of looking around while I was there Saturday night. Wondering which table she sat at. Maybe mine. And with whom she’d gone there with. Probably him.

I am not over it.


I am something infinitely better than I was 11 months ago. I’ve come a hell of a long way.

I’m having a lot more fun.

I feel… just… better. Happier.

I don’t feel as alone even when I’m alone.

And I’m alone much less.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the pretty mom who was on the other side of the dinner table last night.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the jewelry store girl who’s going to come drink tequila and beer with me this week while I make her one of my favorite dishes.

But I know they both like me. The pretty mom really likes me.

The jewelry store girl?

We’re about to find out how much.

I got 99 problems…

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But it’s looking up more than it ever has.

I don’t know what my next post is going to say. But a gentleman never tells.

And I hope we can all live with that.

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81 thoughts on “The Writing Conundrum

  1. mindpinball says:

    It sounds like congratulations are in order. No matter where the journey may lead (or how much you leave out/tell) I’ll still keep reading. Best of luck!

    • Matt says:

      Regardless of what happen in any of these individual situations, I’m better. On the inside.

      I’m so grateful for the change. That good has returned.

      Thank you so much.

      • mindpinball says:

        In the end, it’s great that you are better, regardless. It’s good to see, and it gives hope to guys like me. There was a long time when I wondered if things will ever get any better…where I would think “is this how it all ends?” But I see a light at the end of the tunnel, and thanks to your writing, I know things can (and they will) get better.

        And you’re welcome. Enjoy tomorrow, and appreciate what it brings.

  2. hemmingplay says:

    Take your time. Do it the way your gut tells you. We voyeurs will be fine, because the real story will be worth waiting for.

    go have some fun.

  3. Isn’t it funny that in this blogging world we come to a point where we wonder: How much is too much?

    I have to say I think each of us has had a moment like that. You’ve mentioned a similar moment when you have wondered whether to push that “Publish” button or not. (At least that was my take on it…the similarity, I mean.)

    I think most of us wonder about the very same things…and aren’t nearly as forthcoming about who we are in “real” life. I know I changed from my email name and real picture of me to the photo with one of my favorite sayings and the handle of my blog name…

    My point? Honesty doesn’t seem to be too much of a struggle for you. And I’d have to say that this conundrum you are presented with, and are dealing with, goes a long way to show that you are thinking more and more about the future as you deal with the past. And *that* says a whole helluva lot.

    • Matt says:

      I’m taking all of that as an understanding compliment.

      And I appreciate that you get it.

      I’ll just take it one day at a time, telling stories the best I can.

      And we’ll just see. :)

      • I am grateful that you recognized the intent was to be complimentary with out kissing butt. Butt kissing isn’t my forte!
        I have a feeling you will find plenty of other things to discuss and I look forward to them!

  4. Do they know about your blog? If not, you might want to tell them. Some women might think it’s great, but others might feel like it would be like putting them in the middle of a reality show. If I were in that situation, I’m not sure how I’d feel about it. But you’re right, this situation does cause conflict for writers.

    • Matt says:

      The jewelry store girl knows. She’s very cool and laid back about all of it.

      The pretty mom knows I write, but hasn’t pressed me to read it.

      The jewelry store girl may read this post for all I know. I don’t know how often she peeks in. But I know she does once in a while.


      What’s going to be really interesting, I think, is when I do finally take the relationship plunge with someone. We’re pretty far away from that happening, I think.

      But that’s going to be an interesting period.

      Hope you had a good weekend, sir. Thanks for saying hi. Strange days are these.

  5. RR says:

    I think we can only be honest with others on the same level we are honest with ourselves. Most people do not even realize they are not being truthful with themselves, let alone know how to actually do that. And implement it.
    Have fun with it all – there’s a reason you are where you are. Live in to it. Journey more. And think less…be careful you don’t get “analysis paralysis” ;)

  6. Good luck Matt, it’s good to hear that you are slowly healing, and it’s lovely knowing that gentlemen still exist, good on you.

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. :)

      I’m more of the open-your-car-door and help-you-with-your coat gentleman than I am the get you home before sundown gentleman.

      Not really sure what that makes me. But I’m not inclined to start documenting the private behavior of other people. For several reasons.

  7. nights7 says:

    There’s been a few times I started to write but deleted it all because I realized I just didn’t want to put that much personal detail out there. Writing honestly is a theme with you but that doesn’t mean you have to be an open book one hundred percent of the time. I’m sure the ladies you’re dating will appreciate your discretion.
    Also, 99 problems, is that an Eminem reference?
    And how does one drink “unconventionally”? I’m just curious.

    • Matt says:

      It was a Jay Z reference. :)

      One drinks unconventionally when they drink fairly infrequently, but when they do, they tend to hammer shots.

      As in…

      “I don’t always drink alcohol, but when I do, I hammer 10-12 shots.”


      I don’t get it. But there it is.

      I tend to regulate and stay in control. For all the right reasons.

      • nights7 says:

        So the Eminem lyric is probably a Jay-Z reference too and I just never knew it. I feel so much more knowledgeable now.

        Ah I see. That’s what I used to do (except it would only take maybe 5 shots to put me under the table). I called it escapism drinking. I so very rarely went out or drank so when I did I really did.
        I’m slightly better at pacing myself now…though I still don’t get out much. :/

      • Matt says:

        Sounds to me like you understand, exactly.

        Seems a little unsafe and unhealthy but I don’t know her well enough to be offering life tips just yet.

        The getting out thing? And not just fun, social, bar stuff, either. Just getting out of the house. That’s been the most important decision so far that has helped me move forward these past several weeks. I think staying cooped up alone is not something we were built for.

        You sound like you do a pretty good job. :)

        Please have a good day!

      • nights7 says:

        It can be unsafe & unhealthy. I wasn’t in a very good place in my life when I did that.
        I get out alot with my kids but haven’t been very good at finding or creating social opportunities. It’s a little tough because most my friends are married with babies & toddlers. It be nice to have a couple more single bar going friends. More friends is always better.

        And thanks. You too.

  8. mel says:

    Whatever you do tell, we will read it and love it. Your honesty still comes through, Matt, event when you don’t tell it all. I’m so happy for you… two girls? Player. :P

  9. Rock on! That’s a great conundrum to have! :) I’m so happy that your date went well as I know there was some angst leading up to it! And there is something to be said for honesty, but there is also a line that has to be drawn before you cross into invasion of privacy, even if the privacy is your own! Have a great week Matt!

  10. Please accept the The Dragon Loyalty Award
    If you already have it put “Awarded x2″ below the image
    I would be delighted if you could accept.

  11. April says:

    I think you have a great sense of humor, I love reading your observations. You can still write and leave out most of the personal information of others in your life. The Jesuit Standoff is one that comes to mind.

    • Matt says:

      I appreciate that. I do believe I’ll be okay on the writing side. I just like telling stories about whatever is top of mind. And I think we’re probably now in a place where I will not always be willing to make that choice.

      Time will tell. Thank you so much, April.

  12. Aussa Lorens says:

    We can definitely live with that. You are in control of the stories you want to tell. I certainly blab all over my blog but there will always be thoughts and reflections and worries and thrills that are for me to keep in my own mind.
    Of course, if you ever feel like giving us some sort of racy whirlwind tale of a wild date… we aren’t going to complain.

    • Matt says:

      You certainly do blab on your blog! Blabber!

      I think you fully get it. And I think you probably do a very good job of telling stories that feel real and honest without crossing over into the this-just-isn’t-our-business details.

      And I appreciate that very much.

      Hope you’re well, Aussa. Happy Monday! :\

  13. I worry sometimes if we only have one muse, and so while I’m reveling in the the promise fulfilled that new things can grow after the wreckage of divorce, it’ll be interesting to see your evolution as a writer. Because you are a writer, and though I worry, I have a larger faith in what compels writers. It’s never the muse we think.

    Spilling your innards was part catharsis, but I suspect that was the false muse. Your truth, your muse, your honesty, your soulful innards was your intention to be a better man and help others be that too.

    That remains and that will still come through in whatever you write.

    And I’m hoping there will be more poop stories, maybe change the names of the innocent.

  14. neffy93 says:

    I get you, it’s done, shift your focus to being a single dad maybe and the joys and trials that brings. Just a thought. A selfish thought as I don’t want you to stop writing.

    • Matt says:


      I promise to not stop writing.

      At some point this year, I could pull back to every other day rather than almost every day.

      But in the meantime, I’d like everything to continue as is. Thank you for saying it matters to you.

  15. Just enjoy your life Matt. Take one day at time with no hurry. Just live and enjoy. Maybe one day, you will realize, that now you are ready for more. Until then – just live and enjoy.

  16. Nephila says:

    I tend to write a good deal about what’s already in the past, what has already played out. It’s good to articulate making sense of it in a way you never could at the time and it means less chance of betraying someone. Sure it’s less fresh, but fresh opinions are often wrong or unfair. Part of my confidence in judging a situation (or a person) in writing is that I know I’ve tested my view for a long time before writing it.

    To me that’s the difference between a journal and a blog. Although some blogs do legitimately blur the line as a kind of self-therapy and that’s fine too. But too scary for me.

    • Matt says:

      I tend to go back and forth. And I really do like the reflecting-on-the-past stuff.

      I’m just going to keep making choices. Life choices. And writing choices. One day at a time.

      And we’ll just see.

      I’m so glad you understand. Thank you.

  17. Aamiene says:

    oh wow, I am so incredibly happy for you!! You seem to be at the stage where you can start looking forward more than back. Enjoying the good dreams instead of dreading the bad. omg, (i’m laughing out loud here), he’s gone from single just divorced Dad to dating two women at the same time! Yay! haha No half measures for our Matt! Glad you’re having fun and I’m definitely sticking around to see how it all turns out. But don’t expect all the gritty details. Privacy is important :) *hugs*

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. Yeah. I don’t know how to not to things the complicated way. :)

      Seriously, thank you for cheering for me. It really is working. Things are just sort of organically getting better. It’s been quite refreshing.

  18. I think that the commenter above who said, “Your honesty still comes thru, even when you don’t tell it all” hit it spot on. Candor, authenticity – – those traits are clear as a bell with you and you could even write a fictional piece and your readers would immediately find the subtext and be able to read between the lines to reap some intimacy about you – – our beloved author.

    My own blog is humor based, but I love the tactic of starting with seeds of truth/reality and growing them from there into laughs – – for me it’s still highly cathartic because I can confess and confide what I need to, but by intertwining it with embellishment, I get the privacy I need for myself and those in my life I’ve written about. It’s hard to explain the nuances of that writing style, so I hope it’s making some semblance of sense?

    I basically weave fact with fantasy and manage to confuse everyone! lol. i.e. My last post, had one of my followers blasting my party guest family and friends for taking advantage of me, (she called all my friends donkeys for their behavior) I had to explain that my blog is kind of “blurry” in that my boundaries all blend together.

    I love the freedom that comes with my blogging style and you will find yours grows and adapts right along with you!
    Goodnight (I think? This time change is really gonna mess with my insomnia!)
    ps. a MAJOR congrats on progressive healing!

    • Matt says:

      As long as it’s still honest, I can live with whatever happens next.

      I really appreciate everyone wishing me well. Thank you, Stephanie.

      And yes, I think I know exactly what you mean about your writing. You do a wonderful job!

      Please have a great day, Stephanie.

  19. thatnavaword says:

    oh, good luck! Somone i follow on here said: don’t date with the intention to find ‘the one’. Date to get out, make friends and experience new thing. Lol i should take that advice too

    • Matt says:

      That’s one piece of advice I assure you I’m doing.

      I’m not even thinking about being someone’s boyfriend. If and when that happens? It’s going to be an involuntary sort of “holy shit, would you look at this?” kind of situation.

  20. alienorajt says:

    The dilemma of honesty versus the need to protect others is one I struggle with on a daily basis, Matt: having decided to blog as me, and having always shared pretty intimate details of my life, I can understand where you are coming from. Main thoughts, though: first, so pleased to hear uplift in mood and hope; this sounds very promising. Secondly, you come across as fundamentally honest anyway – and keeping some things to yourself is a sign of decency/care for the feelings of others rather than dishonesty. Thirdly, it is very easy to read an emotionally open blog (such as yours, or mine, come to that) and assume that you know the person, that the writer is allowing you unfettered access to his/her head – not so! There is a whole canvas of word and emotion pictures I keep close to my own chest’s ‘gallery’ – and I am sure you are the same! Best wishes! Alienora

    • Matt says:

      I appreciate you understanding. That’s exactly right.

      Decency really is important. I’d like to think honest storytelling can continue even if there are things I must withhold. We’ll see soon enough. :)

  21. This post just makes me super happy *biggest grin ever*.

  22. Vince says:

    I wondered if you were going to post about the date and what you would share. I agree there are some things that should not be discussed with the public, all the details of a date being one of them. It sounds like you had fun and are looking forward to this other date. That’s cool. It’s all we really need to know.

    • Matt says:

      From a single, divorced guy perspective?

      The Headline is that it took every bit of 10-11 months of constant self-reflection and healing to get to a place where I felt comfortable and confident about meeting new people.

      Not everyone will experience it that way. But that’s what happened so far.

      My opinion is irrelevant. But I would try very hard to not be in a hurry. Because things really do just sort of happen in the healing department.

      • Vince says:

        Thank you for that. I went out Saturday and a friend, with good intentions I think, was trying to get me to walk over and talk to a female that was “looking” my way. He pressured me, I had been drinking and felt compelled, but I didn’t fold. He said, “consider this practice.” I’m just not wired that way. To go up and talk to a female, pretending to be interested, only to use that opportunity for practice.

        It felt weird to even think about it. I’m totally not ready for that and I told him so. Will it take me 10 months? Who knows, perhaps not that long or maybe even longer.

      • Matt says:

        Yes, sir. No formula or set date.

        I would ask you to be patient with yourself. Many of my guy friends didn’t understand. They couldn’t make sense of it.

        I just wasn’t ready, no matter how much I wanted to be.

        It’s okay of it’s next month. And it’s okay if it’s three years from now. You just wake up one day and feel the difference.

        Rooting for you, sir.

  23. Yvonne says:

    I absolutely love how honest you are and that above all you’re also a gentleman – that you are considerate about what you may and may not share going forward. I’m real happy for you too and can sense that change in you through your writing. It reminded me of a time when I thought I would never know happiness or love again and the moment that all changed for the better. I’m rooting for you!

    • Matt says:

      Thank you so much, Yvonne. Things are getting better every day. Can’t ask for much more than that.

      • Yvonne says:

        You’re welcome, Matt! Whatever may come I truly believe it will be an experience of great value and worth. When I was reading your post I had, like many of your other readers, the biggest smile on my face. It’s awesome that through your experience people can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel :-) Have a great day, Matt!

  24. completelyinthedark says:

    Good problems to have ;-) Re: writing about others, I’ve had to face the same dilemma in my blog. I’ve decided that references to other people first have to be in the context of what I’m writing about—not using the blog as a way to vent my opinions of their character, history, values, whatever.

    Case in point was a blog post about how I learned about sex as a teenager, but referencing my ex at the beginning, only as an example of (at the time) a successful sexual relationship. Maybe I was being coy and dishonest not going further describing our sex life, but I didn’t see the point. We all know what happens.

    So, you’ve got a good instinct on how to proceed. Have you mentioned the blog to your dates? I bet they’ve already “read up.”

    If you’re gonna write honestly, you’re likely going to hurt someone. But kudos for you going to that place where few people care to go. It’s painful, but you really are a better person for it. Your readers can see that. :-)

    BTW have fun! :-D cheers Mike

    • Matt says:

      I’m not quitting having fun with people.

      And I’m not quitting writing.

      Their co-existence will be tricky. I’m going to do it anyway.

      Thanks so much, Mike. :)

  25. Cynthia says:

    FWIW, I deliberately don’t blog about most of my love life or my jobs because I don’t want certain people to inadvertently read about themselves.

    • Matt says:

      I more than understand that.

      I don’t see any way I can explore the human experience without write honestly about my experiences.

      I’ll just take it one day and one post at a time. :)

  26. JujyCakes says:

    What wonderful news to read about you!
    I’m glad that you are healing and feeling happier. You were wondering if those feelings and outlook would come back to you. Just because you share parts of your life, your hurt, your pain doesn’t mean you need to share EVERYTHING. Keep some of those boundaries to protect your healing heart while you get back into the water finding new relationships.
    And when you’re ready, share your happiness and joys again. I’m looking forward to those stories, too.
    You’re a good guy with a kind heart…someone is going to very lucky to have you in their life. Till then have fun and be a little scared…I hear it’s good for you.

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for this really nice note.

      It’s pretty awesome to see so many people rooting for you. It’s hard to explain just how much I appreciate that.

      But I do.

      I hope you have a wonderful day. :)

  27. jmgajda says:

    Sounds like you are approaching dating wisely. When I went through my divorce I took off an entire year from relationships (that’s not to say I didn’t date, I just didn’t get serious). I think that’s healthy. The person you want to date when you’re going through an emotionally traumatic time isn’t usually the person you want to date once you’ve regained your equilibrium. And usually, the first person you date after a divorce is rebound. No matter how hard you may try for it not to be. I’m speaking not just from my experience but several of my friends as well. Just thought I’d give you a heads up in case you weren’t already aware of that.

    As for how much to write publicly about relationships, my advice would be that if you hesitate, for even a moment, shelve the post. Maybe just for a few days, or a week, so that you can get some emotional and intellectual distance. It might save you some aggravation later on.

    Good luck with everything!

    • Matt says:

      I’ll keep that in mind about shelving the post if I’m hesitating.

      That seems thoughtful.

      And yes on the rebound thing. I’m fully aware that that’s going to go down that way. It’s sad. But it’s just how it works.

  28. Congratulations on the successful dating, bud! I knew you’d be yourself and do well. (I say that like I know you.) Something very good is ahead for you. Keep rollin’ on.

  29. Honesty is not depending on how many delicate details one gives away about themselves. As long as what somebody is writing about is honestly from the heart I consider it as honest. :)

    Great that your date went that well!!! And much joy while discovering what’s around the next bend for you! :)

    Much love,

  30. Silverleaf says:

    I think the value in your writing is in the truth of what you tell. That doesn’t mean you have to tell the whole truth, though. Your write about the things you’re struggling with, celebrating, considering. And we, your readers, connect with that because we all have something in our lives that allows us to identify with you. You don’t need to tell us the private stuff – and you’re so right, and good and respectful to protect those ladies’ privacy too. As long as you’re honest about the stuff you do write about, that’s the important thing. But know that we’re rooting for you and your happiness!!

  31. stvrsnbrgr says:

    You’re about to get a dose of what it’s like to be in the closet, Matt. Maybe you go out with Suzie a few times and you actually caught yourself checking your pulse as she yammered on last night about her friend Jane’s mold problem… or you bump into inhibition-free Vanessa in the produce aisle and a few hours later you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve cum… Good news or bad news, you’re going to start editing your own life in ways that conflict with living (or blogging) openly and honestly. Maybe write about what that feels like. And keep writing the real stuff, but on tape delay. Or introduce the character of your friend, Carl, who has these crazy good/bad relationships with women. Just keep writing. It’s good for you, and it’s good for us.

  32. I do believe gentlemen never tell. I also know I love reading your blog because you are an honest, gentle, sensitive, respectful and nice man which, I´m sure, is exactly what you are still going to be. Congratulations on starting great relationships with great women! Enjoy!

    • Matt says:

      Thank you! :)

      I’m no angel. But I never intentionally mistreat anyone. And it’s gotten me here. So I’m just going to keep going with it.

  33. suzjones says:

    It all sounds good for you Matt. I’m pleased things are moving forward. That is so much better than stagnating.
    As to the writing. I hear you loud and clear. There are things in my life that I need to write about but it won’t be on my blog because those people are still alive and there are people out there who love them. I’m not about to hurt anyone by what I write. I would guess you are just the same. :)

    • Matt says:

      I never want to hurt anyone for any reason. Even if I think they deserve it, inflicting pain or just trying to, is never going to be part of what I do.

      Stands to reason you’re the same. Because you’re awesome and well-liked. And it’s clear you deserve all of that.

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