Writing is an inside job. I open up my skull and my belly – I let you look insider. I let you pass judgment. I let you empathize or moralize.
So why do it?
Most people don’t. And those who speak or write most often reveal the easy public parts but hold back on the full-reveal. Because they can. Nothing wrong with that. Any writer can guard their truth, their reality, in their creative non-fiction; better yet, hide it within a character in their fiction – revealing foibles and fantasies without their words appearing so much as a transcript from a confessional.
But that’s what writers do – we purge our angst, our conscience, and every apology we ever avoided giving by plunking it down on a page called ‘creative writing.’
Creating dialogue, weaving story, or can be real or imagined, wrapped in disguise or nakedly revealed. What matters is that the writer deals with whatever is troubling them, the reader is the voyeur, the fly on the proverbial wall, witness to pain or pleasure, to secrets and trauma. Everyday things. Everybody things. While we can get twisted about the plot of life as we interpret what is being done to us by someone or some force, there can be no apology without guilt. And there can be no guilt unless there is a disconnect between what you say/write and what the truth is.
The truth is, the writer makes it up as he/she goes along. It can be whatever we want it to be – this is not a trade secret but an obvious perk. Whatever we want.
What non-writers should realize is that writing is no different than what they do every day. Making life up as they go along. Make-believe. Fake it till you make it. Salesman’s boasting. There is defensibility in not revealing the innermost motivations, drives, and desires. Writers seem required to disclose what others never have to do.
Whatever we want can be true –in our lives, in our memory, on our resume, and in the memory of others. Whatever we wish to can be something we do, something we’ve done, or something we write about.
Words in our mind don’t need to escape. We can keep them in check, keep our mouth closed, bite our tongue, and numb our silence with diversions and depressants. Booze and drug work well for some, insatiable addictions of other kinds are rampant too – all in search of a magic fix.
“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.” - Mark Twain
I love that quote – I’ve used it often after I found it on a greeting card many years ago; I enjoyed it both directly and metaphorically, until one day I learned I was not reading those words and the author had intended. The ‘whole quote’, was this:
“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it.” – Mark Twain
Mark; This is one of your best columns, I think, GB, Calgary, AB
Great piece:) it gives me hope and a reason to smile. True, simple pleasures are the best kept secret to a long life, AG, Cancun, Mex.
Loved the Musing today. Great wordsmithing. Thought ‘I have and retain the non-desperate but yet hopeless desire to be hopelessly desired.’ to be very well said. Made me smile. I unconsciously smile upon reading a well-written provocative sentence. Read a ‘Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles. I think you will enjoy it thoroughly. This and his ‘Rules of Civility’ are so well crafted. Example: In Rules of Civility: “But perhaps that wasn’t so hard to understand. In the 1950s, America had picked up the globe by the heels and shaken the change from its pockets. Europe had become a poor cousin – all crests and no table settings. And the indistinguishable countries of Africa, Asia and South America had just began skittering across our schoolroom walls like salamanders in the sun. True, the Communists were out there, somewhere, but with Joe McCarthy in the grave and no one on the Moon, for the time being the Russians just skulked across the pages of spy novels”. I am anxiously awaiting the release of your first novel, RT, White Rock, BC