Please don't put this in your blog

Ah, disclosure. Let’s discuss disclosure. When is it OK to disclose? I work with large numbers and multiple clients. I disclose nothing about my work to anyone. Not to my other clients. Not to you. Financials are always confidential.

Mary works as an addiction therapist. My father worked as a chaplain. They disclose in the same way. No specifics, no identifying characteristics. It’s just a story—in fact, it’s usually just a moment because I can’t bear the story. No names. No details.

A couple of months ago my buddy said, “You can’t put this in your blog.”
“No. Yeah, totally.”
“I’m serious.”
“I won’t write about this.”
“You really can’t.”
“I’m telling you, I won’t.”
“You’ve mentioned many times over the years that you have trouble not sharing, and I’m just saying, you can’t share this.”
“I hear you.”
“Mm-hmm.” (She’s totally going to quibble with that line, but she so made one of those Sure, I believe you, sunshine noises.

But I didn’t blog about it. Not even peripherally. It was a sad story full of human failure, and I don’t have any analysis about that. I don’t have anything to add to sad stories full of human failure. I’m a redemption girl.

I don’t use many names in my blog. I give so few specifics that people often claim descriptions that aren’t about them, which is interesting. In some ways, I guess I’m creating characters. I’m talking about people as I view them, and sometimes giving them dialogue and arguing (either reflectively, or in fact) against what I perceive to be their viewpoint.

This isn’t journalism. Does that mean you don’t get the facts? Not at all. I’m telling you stories. Subject, as always, to my interpretation. I tell things about Mary that worry me sometimes. I always check with her first, but the truth is, you take a certain risk when you open your experience to the world. And you take even more of a risk when you marry a writer who draws from her life. To Mary’s credit, she has no interest in censoring me.

I can’t think about who might read this when I write it. I worry that I won’t get it right — that I won’t be able to articulate what I mean. But I never blog messages. What I have made public is not a missive to specific people telling them to go fuck themselves. It could never have sustained itself for years. It could never have sustained itself for weeks. I write what I grapple with. If there is a theme here, that is it. I write what I think about.

I’ve made myself a character as well. Subject to my own ever-evolving notions of kind of and nearly.



2 thoughts on “Please don't put this in your blog”

  1. All of the reasons that I love this space.

    Interestingly, I’ve been working here and there on a story that I like, but has little direction. Which is typical, but the point is that I’ve written a few scenes that hadn’t happened when I wrote them, only now they sort of have. Bits of conversation have worked their way from the fiction into my real world, probably because I’ve been thinking about that stuff. But they’ve been so like the story, it’s almost inspiration in reverse.

    Has that ever happened to you?

  2. Yes, it has. And it was horrible. I felt like I’d written characters into my own life. I remember reading an interview with Sarah Waters when she talked about a breakup she had during the writing of Fingersmith. She said she’d worried the breakup was payback for the awful things she’d done to her characters in Affinity. It was like that for me too. I felt I’d conjured a roadmap of my own experience.

    But, really, looked at another way, there’s almost an inevitable drive to create parallels between art and reality. Do we write these things because we’re currently experiencing something so similar that we already know how it’ll play out? Or do we write these things in an effort to understand where we are, and our effort to understand gives our experience form?

    I quite look forward to reading bound copies of your work.

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