Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Truth in Fiction. Or Fiction in Truth.

I’ve been thinking lately about whether or not this blog is a help or a hindrance.

Until recently, I’ve always believed in the power of the confessional. I’ve been squirrelling away my private thoughts in notebooks, unmailed letters, journals and stories for decades now.  I have always written my way through my own life, making sense of what was happening to and around me through my pen.  Writing was just about the most cathartic act I could engage in, and always left me feeling more sure about who I was than when I had started. 

When I began writing here about love affairs, sexual escapades and various other dalliances, I think the original intent was to find a way to make events that were either confusing, or painful – like breakups or heartaches – lighter.  In this blog, I created a persona that could laugh carelessly at the questionable or disappointing behavior of men and blithely trip onto the next adventure with a little shrug and a sigh.  It was also a space for me to give meaning to what might otherwise seem like meaningless, frivolous encounters.  Who cared if that man never called me again, if I had a great story out of it?  Hell, who cared if five men broke my heart, or made me feel cheap, or were rude to me, or offered me less than I deserved, if that meant five great stories? Ten?  I congratulated myself on my candour, but the confessional was being somehow being subtly manipulated into something else, a kind of armour that allowed me to guard against any hurts I suffered rather than truly write my way through it.  

The problem that this causes for me now is the growing space between the truth of my emotions and what I might articulate here.  Actually, no.  That’s not right.  That isn’t the problem for me.  I think I know very clearly the differences between the person I am, and the heart I own, and the confident, sometimes whimsical girl whose voice I feature here. 

The problem is when the audience is confronted with the difference.  It’s easy to make assumptions about how I feel or would react to a situation based on the character I portray here.  But what happens when the real me doesn’t match up to that girl?  It can cause conflict, confusion, disappointment – in fact, it has done so. Assumptions are made, which I then find myself apologetically dispelling.   

I struggled a bit with whether this just meant I’m a shitty writer.  That I don’t do a good enough job of truthfully explaining who I am or what I am feeling.  I became dismayed that a person reading a post could not separate the fact from the fiction, or discern the reality of who I was in person from the voice on the blog.  But at the same time, I felt that I had been so real and raw in some posts, how could anyone get the wrong idea about how I was feeling? 

Then I considered whether I should ever share the blog, or the fact of its existence, with anyone who might potentially be featured in later posts.  I still don’t know what the correct answer is.  That’s the wondrous and terrible thing about writing:  once I put something out there, it’s open for interpretation, and whether that interpretation matches my intent, or whether a reader will grasp what I was truly feeling, and understand the elements I have added simply as a writer rather than as a subject, I don’t know, and I can’t control.  It might be bravado, in the form of sarcasm or wit, or dramatic emphasis on a particular aspect of an event, but what is becoming clearer to me are that there are sufficient gaps between what I communicate here and what I feel, that – well, I have to decide whether I’m OK with that.

And I suppose it comes down to this:  what is this blog for, and who is it for?  Is it a space for me to share my thoughts without filter or edit, a truly honest and raw account of my life and what I’m feeling, or is it a product I put out in the world, to be a titillating and (often) humourous read for others?  I guess I’m still not clear on where I stand on that.  And which one you, Dear Reader, want to read. 


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