My husband recently asked me what I was writing—I told him it was a secret. Not that it was (his reading my blog has made many secrets come to the surface), I was just being a smart-ass. But I went on to tell him that I’m don’t think I like full disclosure, that secrets make everything more interesting—and they do. And yes, I know that trouble, or the potential for trouble, is intrinsic to secrets, but imagination rules for the fiction writer, and secrets fuel the imagination.
I had the tremendous privilege of being a student in Laura Oliver’s memoir and essay class at St. John’s College in Annapolis. The class was small, intentionally so, maybe 10 or 12 writer wanna-be’s. There was a very pretty blue-haired lady (and I’m comfortable in saying that, as I’m also a blue-haired lady) that liked my writing and took an interest in me, inviting me for coffee or lunch. I’m a terrible meet-for-coffee-or-lunch kind of gal. I’m not sure why—that’s another post—but I met her for lunch and of course, it was lovely—the conversation was easy and she had the most striking blue eyes. And then she asked me, “what do you do for fun,” and I froze, I choked. I knew without a moments hesitation what it was I did for fun—but I couldn’t tell her! What do I say? That I smoke pot and am in the process of writing a dirty book and a dirty European is my muse and I masturbate to his letters and I share it all with my best friend and we gasp and laugh and wonder about life and men and it’s the best thing ever? Do I tell her that? No. I tell her it’s a secret. A secret. I can’t say what I do for fun because it’s a secret. How stupid is that? This same best friend asked, “couldn’t you make something up, Ms. fiction? Trout fishing, quilting, playin’ the ponies? A secret?” Yup. A secret was the best I could come up with.
You could be the sole proprietor of a secret or it could be owned by a number of people. A secret can be good or bad, as is the disclosure of a secret. What one does with the information can certainly go in any direction. But the secret itself is nothing more than that which remains unseen and unknown by others, and isn’t that mysterious, intriguing? Doesn’t the concept of a secret get your imagination going? A writer can take a secret wherever he or she wants it to go. Write what you don’t want anyone to know. Your secret. Put it to paper and ooh la la.
photo credit: dnaindia.com