Writing About Real Life

What I write in public and what I keep private.

Anna Burgess Yang

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Image created via Midjourney

Back in October, the New York Times story “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” was making the rounds on the internet. One woman donated a kidney in real life, another woman wrote a variation of the story and published it. The first woman, a writer herself, was infuriated that “her story” had been used by someone else. The second woman argued that artists often borrow from real-life events — whether those experiences are their own or not.

I have a t-shirt that says “Steal Like an Artist” — from the shop of Austin Kleon, who wrote a book by the same name. The crux of the book was that all artists “steal,” that is, are inspired by other artists. The differentiator between this “being inspired by” and “plagiarism” is the extent to which the material is transformed into something new. (That issue is central to the Bad Art Friend story.)

When I first began blogging in 2009, I was a bored new parent on maternity leave. My three-week-old son was a dream… ate well, slept well, rarely cried. And infants don’t do much. I started writing about our days on Blogger.com and sharing my posts on Facebook. In the early days, it was an almost daily ritual, often talking about the most mundane experience of parenting. Only close friends and family read it.

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Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur. Niche freelance writer. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. • https://start.annabyang.com/