• R. K. Mayer

Secrets That Are Not Meant to be Shared


I have a secret that I am not sharing. It isn't something bad, traumatic or illegal. It is a happy secret, a good thing, a ray of sunshine. It is just personal and I don't feel like letting everybody in. If you are in my life on a regular basis, you will know already to what I am referring (one can't hide all secrets all of the time). For those of you who do know my secret – maybe you have understood my reticence on the subject, and maybe you haven't. Either way, it is a moot point, the rest of the world will find out when the time is right.

So what's the big deal? I am under no obligation to spill my guts. In contrast to my previous post, wherein my personal stuff seems to be spilling over into my professional writing – here I have the control – the upper hand, the right to decide. It is empowering to keep something to oneself, but it does feel like a bit of a betrayal. Is it not the job of the writer to be completely vulnerable, open, transparent? Is it not our obligation to wear our hearts on our sleeve? Maybe that is the expectation. Maybe that is the norm. But, I don't think it is a de facto requirement.

It is true, when readers examine and analyse works that they read, a standard approach is to examine the author: his or her motivation, psyche, background. This makes perfect sense, understanding the writer lends understanding to the bigger picture, to the why. But a writer isn't obliged to make this analysis easy for anyone. She isn't obliged to lay herself out like an all-you-can-eat buffet. In fact, silence is also a statement. Withholding information is part and parcel of the writer's psyche... even – taken to the extreme – partial or complete withdrawal from society is something to be considered – think about how much has been said about J. D. Salinger and his famous reclusiveness. Sometimes it is not about what you are prepared to share, but it is about what you are unwilling to share. It is not about what you say, but about what you don't say, or won't say.

While some writing can be formulaic and predictable, writers are not. We are people with complexities, tides and currents. We are people with whims, emotions and impulses. There is no black and white – only a multitude of shades. So I am going to hang onto my secret for just a while longer, and enjoy not sharing for as long as I can...

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